Phantom pain

When my Dad had his first leg amputated he described to me something that was called phantom pain. While it was referred to as pain, in his experience it was more like an itch. I remember him telling me of the frustration of feeling his foot itch and, of course, not being able to do anything about it since there was no longer a foot to scratch.

I have begun to think about the experience of being separated from one’s family of origin as a sort of phantom pain as well. Is it possible to miss something that you have never had? Is it possible to long for something or someone whom you have never met?
I have a fulfilling life and a wonderful family; I am blessed beyond what I could have dreamed for. Yet, there is still this pain, this longing, for something that I can’t explain. The truth is that it is easy to bruise my fragile sense of well being, and I spent much of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop in a sense.

I hurry throughout my day and try to keep busy because in that stillness is an ache, a sense of loss and rejection, in a place that I have not yet been able to reach. For now, I am calling it phantom pain.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. I wish I had a balm to heal the pain.

    I know those deep hurts myself, having lost my father to leukemia when I was only 16; then my mother to a stroke when I was only 26. For years I felt an orphan, as if they’d abandoned me on purpose. It wasn’t a conscious thought, just a black lurking beneath the surface of my soul – something like a low grade fever. It remained there for many years, but at long last the Lord came in to occupy the hurt place. I don’t totally understand it, but He did.

    Be blessed, my friend.


  2. I’ve always felt that we have a separate emotional/intuitive intelligence that does not always respond to our logical reasoning. As much as we try to rationalize logically, our emotions seem to have a life of their own. It’s good that you are acknowledging these feelings and exploring them.

  3. I think this makes a lot of sense and a good way to explain it! I hope eventually the time comes when it goes away:)

  4. Extra prayers for you and that the phantom pains get less and less until they don’t exist anymore.

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