I noticed a person at church a few Sundays ago. His expression was one of pain; the hard seat, other things on his mind, wanting to be anywhere else then there or who knows what. Immediately the expression, a pained expression, came to mind. And my mind wandered to the meaning of that phrase.
I think I often wear a pained expression even when I do not want anyone to know I am in physical pain. The body often belies what you want to keep locked away.
I do not want people to know I am in pain; it puts them off, they do not know what to say, it makes them uncomfortable. I think my family history, of being treated very poorly when I was ill or in pain, adds to that need to keep it tucked within myself.
The last church I was in was very small. When I joined the choir there were only 12 of us.
At that time I had all of the pain, the touch pain, the constant, and the triggered as well as the eye pain.
Every rehearsal I started out okay, the pain manageable. I smiled and was nice, even jokey. I joined in the conversations, laughed at other's jokes. And then, 20 minutes, a half hour into it I withdrew, completely. I looked at no one, my head was down, I pretty much ignored the music. The pain was overwhelming but I thought I was keeping it secret.
"Did we do something to you?" asked one of the members. "Are you mad at us?"
I was dumbfounded. Why would they think that? When I asked the answer was simple. "Your head is down and you stop talking or even acting like part of the group." Oh. My whole body had taken on a pained expression whether I wanted to show pain or not. Once I explained everyone was very kind and sweet about it. The pain was no longer an issue. It was okay to be in pain.
But I think about it now when I wonder why I have so much trouble making friends, being included. I know people see that my eye usually looks 'off' but - Do I wear a pained expression? Do I look like I am in physical pain? Do I look like I am unpleasant? Do I wear the corners of my mouth turned down or my jaw clenched? Can people tell the difference between a pained expression; I am in pain vs. a pained expression, I am unhappy, unpleasant, sad, etc? And does the reason for the expression make a difference?
It definitely does not in the beginning, after all how would someone know the why? Maybe after folks get to know you a constant pained expression from indifference or disinterest, etc., sends them away.
The question is, after they get to know you, does an expression of real physical pain, the constant of real physical pain, is that a turnoff too?