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Pain is an ever present amorphous aspect of being alive. The cover image this week is a restaging of one of the most familiar experiences of pain we could think of—the experience of grazing your knees. Everyone has grazed their knees at some point in their life, people remember the tight scabs that spread across the graze causing you to limp so as to not rip the scab open again. Though they say you never truly remember the experience of pain, narratives are built out of the pain endured.
Pain is not only physical, but is also innately mental, many different parts of the brain are involved in the experience of pain. It’s why sometimes you don’t feel pain unless you notice you’re bleeding; it’s why doctors encourage you to walk on and use injured parts of your body so as to not create an over exaggerated mental experience of the pain.
Pain is never uniform—we all hurt in various ways, in different places, loudly or silently, constantly or occasionally, lightly or deep in our bones. And there are so many different kinds of pain: the numb dull throbs, the sharp shoots, the sore tooth or cut that weirdly feels good kind of pain. The language around pain is limited in English—for something so many experience—the realities and specificities of the experience are limited by what words we have to talk about it.
The writers this week have lived lives impacted by pain, and felt isolated, different, and strange because of it. Here, they have been able to expand on these experiences and have given us the ability to see inside their pain—just for a moment.
As Tim explores in his feature, sometimes it’s hard to know where pain is coming from, are there particular causes or is it simply there? Is it enough that it is just there? If it is just ‘there’, how do you make it go away, or do you have to learn to live with it?
Physical pain is often invisible, and we might unknowingly be around those who live with a disease, an illness, or a disability that pains them each and everyday. Sometimes this pain is not temporary, but will be with a person always, fluctuating in its intensity. Eve, Cassie, and Jennie have described to us their experience of this kind of pain, in their exploration of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Pain can also happen out of nowhere, and we might be left to build a new life. Madeleine explores how this happened to her, in the wake of a serious accident at the beginning of the summer just gone.
Vulnerability, openness, and honesty are intertwined with our experiences of pain and our abilities to work with and through it. Even though it is bleak and heavy, we cannot avoid thinking about pain. This issue is an attempt to explore, learn, and make sense of the ways in which pain impacts the lives of us all.
Emma & Jayne xoxo