Phantom Pain

Put your cup down and move with me through the growth process.  Personal growth can mean leaving behind habits and behaviors that you miss along the way.  There comes a time when you know you can never return to that place, but the pain of leaving it behind is like Phantom Pain.  You ache for the way things used to be.  If given the opportunity, you would psychologically reside there, but mentally and emotionally you know you’ve out grown this space.

Now, pick your cup up and come with me to a place not so far away.  This place for me is the comfort of being the “baby” of the family.   I am the youngest of six children and loved having so many protectors and caregivers in my life.  However, when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that safe comfortable place would soon be lost. I could remember the fear that consumed me at family meetings to discuss my mom’s health.  There were times during these discussions when I just wanted to stand up and scream, “this can’t be happening…Everyone assume their assigned roles!!!”  In my mind this meant, everyone else stand up and protect me from this awful tragedy that has become our reality.

Initially from my perspective, no one could because we were all suffering.  There were many days, I wanted to recoil and assume my role as the “baby,” with many protectors.   I can remember the constant ache for the place of safety and security as I awaken every day to the reality that I was losing my mom.  Phantom pain indeed!  After much grieving, heartache and pain, I began to recognize that just as an amputee could not grow another limb and had to learn to navigate through life with this painful change in circumstances…I had to do the same.  So, instead of looking for others to take away my pain and make me safe, I began to pray for wisdom, strength and courage. (Philippians 4:13)  From this vantage point, I began to grow and my focus began to change.

It’s  amazing how those family dynamics automatically come into play, however, as I made a conscious decision  to “grow up,” I was now determined to use my God given talents and abilities to help my family navigate through this very difficult time.  I began to notice as the months went by, the family meetings became more intense and the discussions more difficult, I could now pull out my tablet, take notes and record my mom’s medications.  I could now ask the difficult questions and support my siblings in a way that I didn’t think was possible for me.

If I’m honest, I still look back and want the safety and security of having my mom.  She was definitely a place of safety and one of my biggest cheerleaders.  I am forever changed by this loss. This too is another Phantom pain.  However I do love how the dynamics with my siblings have changed.  While I am still the “baby” of the family, no one refers to me that way anymore.  Now, when they introduce me, they say, “she’s the youngest.”  I love that…it was a difficult transition, but here I am today, and I love being the YOUNGEST!

Phantom pain can come in the form of any loss. Sometimes it’s there masking itself as something else. It’s tricky…Had any Phantom pain lately???  I’d love to hear about it, please share

38 thoughts on “Phantom Pain”

  1. Phantom pain doesn’t come without personal pleasures/pain. I must be experiencing Phantom pain right now. I have noticed from my 50 years on this planet that my phantom pain with rashes that break out over my body. How do I get rid of the phantom pain/rashes? I sit down and have a real talk with myself(journaling) and try to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. It works for me, for sometimes only I can say to myself what needs to be said to make the phantom pain go away.

  2. Thank you much Cathy! My Sis has to have surgery it’s not a major surgery but it’s involves being cut on in which I’m just not comfortable with that. But with Prayer & Belief she’ll come out fine.

    1. Ahhhh…I understand. When any of our family members are in the hospital it is scary, by this being your older sister the roles will be reversed…you will be caring for her during this difficult time. It’s a transition in roles, even if its for a small time. Phantom pain indeed! Thank you for sharing Victoria

  3. Well everybody is gone. Baby daddy, mom 58,dad, best friend, only sister, grandparents on both sides of my dyes family. I have 3 brothers who I do not even know where they are? I wonder sometimes why they all were so young? Sister 31,baby daddy 40, girlfriend 50 first boyfriend 20’s? I am not sure it is phantom or just pain. I try not to dwell on it. I thank Jesus for keeping me! I pray for my brothers who I do not what I did to them? They sexually abused me? My name was black or the slave to them again I choose to live in forgiveness not phantom pain or real. I have to know I am still here for a reason. Blessed be the name of the Lord

    1. Yes Whoopie, you are here for a reason! (John 3:16) I just want to say thank you so much for sharing your story. So many will benefit from your amazing example in forgiveness and survival. Death is such an ugly enemy, for our Heavenly Father knows how awful it is and he has made plans to do away with our suffering. (Revelation 21:3,4) You have felt the sting of death so many times and yet you seem to be resilient without the taste of bitterness. Its amazing to me how your presence brings light to any room and when you open your mouth you speak with such grace and humility. No one would ever know the pain you have experienced. Your ability to be vulnerable in this forum shows your spiritual strength and courage. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4) What a beautiful choice you have made to live in forgiveness…it truly is something we do for ourselves. Thank you again for sharing.

      P.S. Your feelings and your questions are valid. I recently read a book that I think might be very helpful in providing answers to some of your questions. I will email you an electronic copy. Much Love Mary

    2. Whoopie,
      It takes a lot of courage to tell your story and I am so proud of you for being brave enough to deal with the pain and for being able to pray for your brother’s. Your beauty and strength shines from the inside out! Never be afraid to tell your story, give strength to those who have lived your story. Through you they may learn to get out of the story and be able to tell it just like you!
      Lakeeshi

      1. Wow! Amen Keeshi…We have all become a little more courageous in sharing our story because of you Whoopi. Thank you again.

  4. Thank you so much Cathy for sharing. That really hit home for me. I once experienced this Phantom Pain when my Father had turned for the worse and slowly passed in November of 2013. I’m now experiencing it again with my only Sister. But my belief is so strong that she will get through this alive and well by the grace of our Heavenly Father. God is so good, ALWAYS and FOREVER.

    1. Yes we can read scriptures like Philippians 4:13 that helps us to appreciate that we can make it through with God’s help. It’s one thing to read, but another to experience His love and support. It’s amazing how the Phantom pain can come before death…it’s a transition period that follows the lose of something or someone, sounds like you’ve experienced both as well. So sorry to hear about your sister. Thank you for sharing Victoria.

  5. Great post..I really could identify with the feeling of leaving and growing from the place where you felt the most safest. What a journey you have been on. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. What wonderful example of “Growing through the pain.”

    1. My pleasure Donna, yes it has been a journey. I’m still on it, as most of us are. It’s nice to have so many traveling this road with me while we sip coffee together;-) Thanks for sharing Donna

  6. Ahhhhhhh…there it is KiKi. I’ve been waiting for you to chime in. What a beautiful sound you’ve made. Your words and voice are beautiful to this discussion. Here is validation to your comment. (1 John 4:18) You have unmasked the hurt and now it’s time to start the healing process. You can do it. Keep in mind that you have survived in the past and look at where you are today. You were not afraid to make the commitment of marriage so some healing has taken place. With this new awareness and God’s help you can heal and ask him to create something new within your heart. (Psalms 51:10) Thank you so much for sharing and being vulnerable in this safe place. Love you!

    1. There is no pain that can compare to the loss of a parent or child but u continue to teach us that even in the most painful of situations God is able to give us sunshine after the rain! I can only imagine the smile your mom has while watching you shine so brightly! You are one of her greatest accomplishments!

  7. I love this! Its really something how you pinpoint an issue that I have that I could never put a name to! Reading this opened up a part of me that I’ve tried to ignore for ever! When I read this on Monday I wasnt able to relate to the phantom pains from the loss of a mother because I haven’t lost my mom (thank God) but I did discover I have phantom pains though. My pain is from past hurt. Hurt from those I let get close to my heart. I realized that I have been guarded most of my life for fear of being hurt. I have had my heart broken by many people I let my guard down for. So when I want to let my guard down I feel those phantom pains that remind me of those that hurt me in the past and It scares me. I want to trust people but I recall how hard it was to bounce back from those heartaches. I have recently learned that I haven’t allowed myself to be totally vulnerable to my husband for fear of being hurt and betrayed like I hd been by others. Though I knew I had my guards up to some degree I didnt recognize that it was stunting the growth in my marriage. I will be praying and asking God to help me let my guard down and take the lead in my life because I believe this wall i created to protect myself from hurt has even stunted my spiritual growth with God. My trying not to be hurt has kept me from trusting God to protect my heart.

  8. This really touched home for me as I am also the youngest of seven children. I too love being the baby and have many fears of future loss. I felt the deep pain of losing a loved one three years ago when my brother died. He was closest to me in age. My eldest brother told me that since I am the youngest, I could possibly be the one to bury them all… that was a very sobering statement that I had not seriously considered before. I loved reading how you’ve transitioned Cathy. I also appreciate your honesty of sometimes wanting to go back to that safe place of protection. Phantom pain…This has given me a lot to ponder over. Like you said, loss can come in many forms and I’ve experienced plenty over the past recent years. Like my divorce… it wasn’t a great marriage as you well know. But the pain of loss and sometimes wanting to go back to a time where all was well is real. It can interfere with your daily life so I will take your advice and draw strength and wisdom from the scriptures. 🙂

    1. Wow! Definitely the pain of loss is sooooo real. It often wears a mask, but this week we have stripped the mask of the Phantom and calling it what it is. When we recognize that we a grieving an change in circumstance, we can pray about it specifically and work at doing what it takes to grieve that loss, process it, and eventually heal with Jehovah’s help. Great comment Benika…thanks for sharing.

  9. You are magical. These always come just at the right time! Certainly not like your pain but mine is all about babies! Watching my nephew near his first birthday and my two close friends in their pregnancy I miss that. I have my two perfect girlies and I feel complete but other days my uterus feels different LOL.
    Learning that my role has changed from mommy to babies, to mommy to little girls who are learning about the world. It’s a gift 🙂

    1. Wow…I can remember those days. Its something very special about bringing a new life into this world. I know you love it and as your see your little girlies experiencing life outside of you, it definitely is a loss, or shall we say transition. I can truly say…I too have felt the Phantom pain of the uterus…it’s very different from cramps…LOL;-) Thank you Lori for sharing that!

  10. I never heard of “Phantom Pain” until today. I have had several of those pains. I lost my mom in 2012, and every now and then that pain shows up. A wise person once said “thank God for the pain”. If we never felt the pain, we would forget it exists.
    I now know that you can grow from your pain once you acknowledge it and not let it consume you. I have. Thank you Cathy for sharing your life with us weekly and for helping me put a name to the pain.

    1. Awww…I can truly say it is my pleasure. Something I learned when I was in school for coaching and I will never forget it. One of my instructors said, “you can’t feel the height of happiness until you have felt the depths of sadness.” I truly have experienced this. Since losing my mom and allowing myself to grieve, my happy moments are that much richer. I’m so happy our pain isn’t masked…we know exactly what it is;-) This is such a beautiful brew;-) Thanks for sharing Roz.

  11. Wow!! All I can say is you are really DEEP. You’ve Helped me in so many different ways. Your the best YOUNGER SISTER a girl could have. Mom was very proud of you. When we talked about you she always talked about your beauty. Physical yeah; but we also talked about your beautiful heart and spirit. Mother’s Know who we are long before we figure it out. You had a wonderful mom and I had the best Mother-In-Law in the world. I really miss her. Oh yeah, after we talked about how wonderful you were; she would say “You know she’s just like me” and we would crack up laughing. I miss that. Just thought I would share. Love ya.

    1. LOL…I was literally in that moment with you while I was reading this and in that conversation. I could literally see that smirkish smile she would give after a statement like that. Thank you for that walk down memory lane and thank you for your love and support. You are a wonderful sister..I’m in throwing “in Law” out the window. Let’s take a sip to that…coffee that is;-) Love you.

  12. Thanks for sharing. I had to take a minute and think about what my phantom pain is. Well it comes from a couple places. Even though I haven’t lost anyone close to me I did experience a divorce which is one of the areas I had phantom pain. It was the lost of my marriage and inevitable the lost of my daughter’s father on a full time basis. I was devastated in both areas. The comfort of having a traditional family was lost. I no longer had a provider, comforter, best friend, or someone to share parenting with my daughter. I was like a fish out of water. Lost and scared to death in a world all alone to fiend for myself and my daughter. I often longed for the familiarity and “security” of our relationship. It took awhile for me to get it together but I’ve came out of that situation stronger and more confident. I realized I had it all in me all along. Now my life is full and fun and I’m living better than I did with him and my relationship with daughter is stronger than ever because I turned that fear into nurturing my relationship with her. I wanted her to see a happy strong woman. In the end, I wouldn’t be me without my phantom pain.

    1. Wow!!! How beautifully said. Thank you so much for sharing. We are true BLOGGERS here. I’m so happy to have this place to learn from one another. It takes strength to process that loss and put it into words for others to benefit. I’m so grateful for your level of sharing. This is an insightful journey for many. We just keep learning from one another. You are a wonderful mom and truly a joy to be around. You bring sunshine into a room. The darkness of the Phantom Pain has certainly turned into your light;-) Love you!

  13. It is so encouraging to see that you are surviving through your phantom pain, it’s also interesting how you say it can mask itself as something else. I think sometimes we just go thru the motions of daily life and put our pain on the back burner, when we really need to deal with it head on.

    1. Thank you Yana…Mmmm…imagine pain in a large pot on the back burner of the stove. It’s boiling over and we see it, but we both walk out of the door and go to work. Who’s going to turn it off or tend to it? Love your analogy. It’s a nice visual to remind us that we can only let it burn within us for so long. It’s not always easy, but we don’t have to do it alone. Thank you for sharing. Love you!

  14. It’s amazing how a few paragraphs can bring up such deep memories of loss and hurt. Your blog reminded me of a major life decision made years ago, that I still question. But, I know that mentally and emotionally it was the right move. Personal growth can indeed be painful but necessary. Thank you for sharing.

    1. My pleasure Maxine…I purposely used Phantom Pain, because it’s so often masked and we’re not sure that it’s really there. I’ve found that it’s okay to feel the pain and allow it to heal instead of masking it. It’s amazing how children grow it height and stature with no effort. As adults personal growth has to be a conscious decision and yes…it is necessary. Thank you for sharing Maxine. See you soon my friend.

  15. My phantom pain came in the lost of my Dad! But I am greatful that I also being the youngest was with him the day before he unexpectedly lost his life. So that time will always be special in my heart and mind. We laugh together the day before he was my Rock!

    1. Ahhhhh…what beautiful memories. Isn’t it wonderful that we were created with the capacity to recall those memories and relive them as if it really were yesterday. What a blessing. Soon we really will relive them. John 5:28 & 29. Thank you so much for sharing Birni, all the way from Charlotte NC. 😉

  16. Phantom pain I have not yet experienced and I can only imagine the pain that you went through of losing your mom. However, reading your experience of of phantom pain, is truly encouraging, my heart is with you. I am so blessed to have my mom with me.

    1. Yes you are Linda! I am blessed to have so many supportive friends who not only convey their love and support but actually show it. Phantom pain can come in the form of any loss. Sometimes it’s there masking itself as something else. It’s tricky, that’s why we need the constant love and support of one another, and a safe place to explore new or unfamiliar feelings. Thank you Linda for being you!

    1. My pleasure Kecia…The pain is there, even when you think it’s not. Our mother’s would be proud of the way we have continued to grow in their absence. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Only one who has experienced such a great lost can relate to the phantom pain…I know it well my dear mom has been resting in death seems for ages her absence is at times UNBEARABLE but He who imparts power to me (psalm 83:18) HE has lifted, walked, carried, and carries me through the phantom pain….we can be numb to life, but full of life, look amazingly happy and be encouraging, but crumbling inside. It’s a moment, by moment process but it does give relief when someone else has the void, of the dark phantom pain..thank u for your transparency.

    1. Thank you for the depth of your response. It touched my soul to know that someone feels the same way I do and can articulate it in such a way that validates, nurtures and inspires me. It is the comments of all that allows me to be vulnerable and transparent. I feel clothed with the bond of love. Thank you…I look forward to your future comments. Mz. Exclusive;-)

      1. Phantom pains??? – Yes indeed I have experience the pain of feeling the lost and the sadness of me makinn the choice of leaving a situation because I had to so I could survive emotionally and spiritually. The first time was when I decided to leave home at age 23, it was exciting and scary for many many many reasons. But it was one of the VERY BEST decisions I have ever made. Leaving home FORCE me to OPEN my eyes and SEE what was REAL and what was false! It helped me to understand both my parents more and why they divorce, all my questions were finally answer! Leaving home gave me FREEDOM because it freed me from so MANY things!— Also choosing to end an relationship with a boyfriend that I truly cared about was a HUGE lost, the loneliness and pain was difficult but I knew it was best to end the relationship now then to be married to a SELFISH individual who was a taker and not a giver. Why get marry if I won’t be happy???– Why get married just to end up in a bitter painful divorce???-Why get married when ALL the WRONG signs are staring right at me???– Leaving home and still being single has at times been VERY difficult and challenging especially when all your good friends are married or have kids. But with my loss I have gain so much!– At age 30 I knew myself because I had time to get to know and understand me, I got a chance to get to know my parents as adults ( something I probably would of miss if I had my own family)– I know my weakness , I know why I react to certain things a certain way, I know my strengths and I know my limitations. I am a STRONGER person who has so much LOVE to give ALL. The guy I dated that was a loss for me – Well, it was a loss for him too, because of his own selfishness and immaturity rather he ever realize it or not he missed out on a loss too– he missed out on ME!

        1. Wow!!! Thank you for sharing Lisa…I love this blog because it encompasses women who have taken different paths. You have shared so much from a very different vantage point. You’re right, I didn’t get to know my parents as adults until after my children grew up. In this day and age it is very important to know yourself before you choose a mate. Even though you may experience Phantom pain over the loss of your boyfriend, you will in time heal. I would imagine that it would be more painful to be in an unhappy marriage that might end in divorce. At least you know the source of your pain and it is not being masked or hiding. You are very strong and courageous. Keep up the great work Lisa!! Thank you for sharing.

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