Dangerous Compassions

pain and power


Hello, reader.  How are you doing?  Did you read my post about pain, a while back?  It includes a list poem.  I enjoyed thinking about my pain and cataloging it.  Afterward I remembered many pains that didn’t make it to the list.  And there’s something else I wanted to tell you about introception.  Also pain and power.

what I wanted to tell you

Pain can confuse me.  Something will be wearing me down–it might take me a while to identify that physical pain is what’s hurting me.  I can feel emotional and spiritual discomforts that are hard to put my finger on.

What’s that sensation in my torso?  It could be

  • grief
  • hunger
  • gas
  • fear
  • loneliness
  • heartburn
  • withdrawal
  • exhaustion
  • muscle pain
  • breast pain
  • sunburn
  • repressed longing
  • need to cry

It can be a combination.

Once I figure out that a sensation is physical pain, I need to figure out what’s causing it, and if I need to do something about it.   Is it a neutral pain?  Will it affect my life more into the future?  How long has it been going on?

That can take a minute also.  Do I need to tell someone, like tell Ming, or consult a health professional?  Do I need help?


It’s hard to gauge how serious a pain is or even dangerous.  Anxiety that accompanies the pain might or might not correlate to actual danger.

I’ve written before about my ulcer–when I was in the hospital, a doctor told me the ulcer was very large and must have hurt a lot.  I said no, it didn’t hurt at all.

Later I thought about the heartburn I’ve had over my lifetime, and other stomach experiences.  I realized the ulcer had hurt for about 17 years.  It never occurred to me that the sensation was pain, it mattered, and I needed to do something different.


Questions I struggle with about pain might seem strange to other people.

  • Does my pain matter?
  • Does my pain count as pain?
  • Should my pain be factored into decisions that involve other people?

I dismissed my pain when I was a kid, which could be an autism thing.  Also gender–my mom was a kind, caring, intelligent person who taught me how to love.  But there were bad gender things in my family, where the illness and pain of men and boys was taken seriously, while the illness and pain of women and girls was treated a whole other way.

My mom lived in denial about her physical issues and family violence–that helped her keep doing the impossible.  Her denial got onto me.

It’s taken a lot of work to learn how to face reality, tell the truth about things like abuse, and live in a way that’s not pretending that everything is fine.  It’s a lie, that femmes just need to work harder to contort ourselves so life will be harmonious.

In community even today, I’m healing this.  How do we relate in ways that are not centering the well-being of men, at the expense of everyone else?  How do we share power fairly?  Is confidence overly valued, and are tall people with whiskers in charge de facto?

pain and power

Power is complicated–it can be direct, understated and quiet, something manipulated under the surface in a creepy way, based on truth, strengthened in all sorts of alliances, based on violence, based on misogyny, based on who’s holding knowledge, based on traditions that we don’t need anymore.  It’s confusing.

Pain and power are so related.  Disability is tied in with power in many ways.

Who isn’t showing up, because of their disability?  Who’s being included, excluded, considered competent, considered incompetent?  Whose needs matter here?  How do we fairly, kindly get our needs to matter?


Recently a new housemate who loves disability justice helped rearrange the dining room table, turning it 90 degrees.  I thanked them.  My body feels more welcome in the dining room, now that I can be anywhere around the whole table.

It’s a good feeling to help the community we share accommodate our access needs.  It feels respectful and too rare.

Thank you for understanding that all bodies are valid bodies.  Thank you for helping us all feel welcome at the table, figuratively and literally.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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