I am currently reading a book entitled: “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer. It is a book about the journey within and beyond ourselves. The book is so unbelievably helpful if you read it slowly and let each page resonate with you. The quote I would like to share for this post comes from the first chapter: “If you watch the voice inside your head objectively, you will come to see that much of what the voice says is meaningless. Most of the talking is just a waste of time and energy. The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it. It’s like sitting down at night and deciding whether you want the sun to rise in the morning or not. The bottom line is, the sun will come up and the sun will go down. Billions of things are going on in this world. You can think about it all you want, but life is still going to keep happening.” –Michael A. Singer
The hardest part of my journey with chronic pain was searching for a cure or relief. I wanted control over the pain, I wanted the physical pain to go away and I stopped at nothing to try and make that happen. This search and control robbed me ten precocious years of life. It was not until I hit rock bottom and truly wanted to die that my life began. I had to relinquish control over chronic pain and learn how to live with the pain instead of trying to fight it. Once I let go, life slowly (very slowly) began to become well, life. I have followed the same natural routine of managing chronic pain for ten plus years now: practice makes permenance (perfect is not possible.) Life’s problems and challenges will arise whether or not you have chronic pain. My most avid reader wrote me today and said: “I know this is not wise but I must focus on family issues and school. Not myself.” This is where the juggle of life and chronic pain come in: yes she needs to focus on her family and school but she must focus on herself as well. My advice to her was this (she did not ask for advice but I could not help myself.) One can either use issues or life circumstances to take over us so we no longer take care of our management of chronic pain or we can use life’s twists and turns as distractions to our pain. I will be thirty four years old in June: I face issues, as we all do. I am married, have my amazing daughter whom at times is quite challenging as she is a toddler, I have extended family that needs me at times, all the things many adults have challenges with. Life (the good and bad aspects) do not disappear because I have chronic pain. However, I try very hard, especially as a mother to use challenges to help me manage chronic pain instead of making my management more difficult. My daughter, Kayci just recently turned three and she not only looks much older (she is off the charts for height) but acts and speaks like a five year old. I had this not so bright idea to take my toddler and cousin to get manicures and pedicures yesterday as it is one of my favorite treats for myself and I rarely allow myself this relaxing time. It did not occur to me for some reason that bringing a toddler and a nine year old to a nail salon on a Saturday was probably going to be pure chaos. We entered the nail salon and the first thing Kayci said was: “Ugh, it smells disgusting in here Mommy.” She has a point, it is a strong smell of nail polish and nail polish remover. The wait ended up being around an hour, a very long hour. During which, my mind began to catastrophize regarding pain. We all have conversations in our mind non stop and most of us are unaware we are having a non stop battle in our brains. I was thinking: “Jessica, this was the worst idea ever. I can already feel my chronic pain escalating. Shit, what do I do? I cannot let the kids down, they are so excited. Oh no…now Kayci is dancing in the middle of this place singing ‘Let it Be’ as loud as she can. Oh man, the manager is pissed.” Then I stopped and remembered the above passage from the book I am reading. My daughter actually made the entire experience awesome. She was like a rock star in her tutu and costume jewelry. I started looking at everyone and they were smiling ear to ear and laughing because this little toddler was not only adorable but hysterical. She came up to me and said: “Mommy, I do not feel like arguing today. Calm down. Lets dance.” She just turned three! So, we danced. We sang and danced until it was our turn and we got matching pink toes with white flowers on them. Once I let go, the physical pain was there I just stopped thinking about it and had fun. I always thought being a mother would be impossible due to chronic pain. Turns out, motherhood has been the best medicine for my illness.
Do not allow any illness to define your life. Your dreams do not have to be stolen from you because of chronic pain. Let the things in your life that challenge you help you with chronic pain. Turn those stressors into distractions from pain. And when all else fails: put your tutu on and start singing the Beatles and don’t care who is watching.