“As you get older you will understand more and more that it’s not about what you look like or what you own or do. It is all about the person you have become.”
This has honestly been one of the most difficult years in my life (excluding the hellish ten plus years searching for a cure for chronic pain.) I look back at this past year and remember so many times thinking: “how the hell am I going to get through this? I cannot bear it. I hate myself, my life, and I’m screwed.” The person I look up to the most said to me recently: “Jessica, these challenges and this past year have made you stronger and wiser than I ever thought possible.” I look back to about this time last year and I do not believe I have ever hated myself more. I lost my mind and learned the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn. I am not going into details as some things I must keep personal and the most difficult parts of this year had nothing to do with physical pain, however the stress and self-hatred caused my chronic pain to escalate to points I have not observed in years. I forgot how awful chronic pain can be. Holy crap! I have no clue how I made it through ten years of that pain and give all of you so much credit and love for what you are going through. If I can live a happy life despite chronic pain, anyone can. It just takes a long ass time to get there. But, the time will pass anyways right?
I was looking through pictures of the past year and it is quite evident most of us only take pictures of the good moments. Makes sense; when I am curled up in a ball crying the last thing I am thinking about is my phone or taking a picture. In the photo collage above the top right picture was taken exactly one year ago. I was so happy because my mom surprised me with birthday treats and since then our bond has grown, we had years of miscommunication or no communication. One of the blessings of this year is the relationship I have with my mom now. One looks at their parents so differently once he or she becomes an adult. Clearly, my daughter was the best part of this year (shocking, I know.) Last summer at our pool she was obsessed with this damn flamingo that was in a garden: she thought the pink flamingo was real. Every day she was told not to play with the plastic flamingo by the lifeguards but that never stopped her. Finally, they gave up and Kayci spent the rest of the summer swimming with this flamingo. She is honestly the funniest person I know. Christmas was hard, in fact every holiday was quite difficult this year. The picture of me holding Kayci was taken Christmas Eve in the emergency room where we spent a good fifteen hours. She had a fever of one hundred and four and to say she vomited a few times is putting it lightly. I have never seen so much vomit in my life. It took days to get it out of my hair, our clothes, and if I looked hard enough I am sure there is still some lying around somewhere. I was alone for most of it as my family was away. Let me tell ya, chronic pain never entered my mind. My heart was so heavy and I was scared. I remember the ER doctor saying: “This is the sickest child we have seen all day.” I could punch him now looking back. She had many tests done and had to be hooked up to fluids for hours. I laid with her on the stretcher the entire time: yes even when she was given a cat scan. Those nurses hated me. I would not get off that hospital bed for anything. I remember saying in my exhausted, scared voice: “If you want me to get off of this thing during her cat scan, you will have to call security. I’m not moving.” I still cannot imagine what my parents went through when I had brain surgery. This kid of mine will wear a helmet if I have to super glue it to her head. Christmas is my favorite day of the year, and my birthday: let’s be real. This was the most challenging Christmas of my life and I will never forget the copious amount of tears that fell during the day. Of course, Kayci was fine by the end of Christmas then we got sick: par for the course. Time went on and to say there were ups and downs is putting it mildly. It has been a roller coaster year like nothing I ever imagined. It was like the vicious cycle of hell and I hurt people, people hurt me, life changes seemed to happen daily. Good days, bad days, good days, bad days: every day was a mess: either a terrible mess or a beautiful mess but either way, a mess. Easter came and although I am not religious I do see Easter as new beginnings. Some kind of shift happened this past Easter and I began to find myself again. Has it been smooth sailing since Easter, of course not but I am in such a different place mentally and spiritually than I was this time last year. I grew up. I always talked about self love but I guess I never really had it until now. Odd, yet true. I learned very hard lessons and I can now say I will never do anything to cause myself hatred again. I can go to sleep knowing I did my best and I finally do not need anyone to make me happy or feel good about myself. That is not to say I do not want gold stars or words of encouragement from the people I love but needing and wanting are two very different things.
This past year has given me more strength than I thought possible. Yes, there are nights I cry and I am far from perfect (no such thing) but I have really learned a lot. If someone says something negative about me it does not affect me as it would a year ago because I know it to be untrue. There are going to be bumps in the road for the next year: I cannot even imagine turning thirty five! Days are long, but the years are short is an understatement. A lot has changed this past year. Would I have handled situations differently looking back: you have no idea YES. However, I cannot go back in time nor do I want to. I just have to hold the lessons taught to me and hold on to that self love. My inner child comes out, especially at night. This little wounded girl who just wants to be held is still there but the adult Jessica has got a much better grip on her.
I think a lot of great things are going to happen this year. I know they are. Chronic pain makes our journey though life much more difficult than those who do not have this invisible illness so I know not everything will be easy, never has been and never will. But, my God so much can change in a year. The greatest change from June 7th, 2014 to present tense is myself. Now, that I am wiser and have that self love I do not believe I ever really had I just know good things are coming.
I truly want to thank every person who reads my writings. It still astonishes me, people take time out of their lives to read what I have to write. What a gift you have all given me. I am not going anywhere: I have a lot of goals and dreams to achieve so keep reading and I beg you to email me if you ever need support or guidance. That is why I am here. Each one of us can begin self improvement at any point but we must be ready. Please do not give up: so much can and will change. You have no idea but I do. “When I was nineteen, grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh what a ride! I always wanted to go again. It was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so scared, frightened, sick, excited, and thrilled all together. Some didn’t like it and went on the merry-go round instead. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster better. You get more out of it.”