Thursday, June 16, 2011


Why is it that my memories of physical pain are gone, while the emotional pain remains burned into me?

I can't tell you how much it hurt, or exactly how it felt when I was in the ER, in what felt like the worst pain of my life. I don't remember. There is nothing there. What I do remember from that night are facts and impressions, but they're all external. Nothing from what I was experiencing internally remains.

But the other nights, where I was crying because I was so emotionally hurt, or embarrassed, or scared, those I remember in vivid detail.


And it can all be called back in a second. By the smallest thing. And suddenly I am reliving it. All of it. Not just the emotional anguish, but the physical pain that comes from crying for so long, and from curling up in such a tight ball.

Those memories, the physical pain that accompanied the emotional? I remember perfectly.

It's what makes it so impossible to compare a current injury to a past one. Only the present one, the one of whose presence your body continually reminds you of in excruciating detail, is important. The rest are just factual blurs, devoid of any senses or feelings.

And that's why we're able to continue to put ourselves into potentially harmful situations. Sure it'll be like that time I broke my arm, that was bad, but it wasn't that bad.

But why?

Why do our bodies only hang to to one type of painful memory? There are all types of pain, one is not less-real than the other. Both are important, both can impact our lives. But maybe it's the emotional ones that we can learn form. They are the ones that shape us as people, that change our future behavior, for better or worse. We only change because we are scared of pain, and our bodies keep those memories intact, close to the surface, ready to remind us of the risk of suffering should we stray too close to our old mistakes.

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