“From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. From the inside looking out it’s hard to explain.”
I feel as if The Universe has been sending me mixed messages non-stop and I do not know what to do and my thoughts have been up down and all around this past week. Have you ever felt like you are a hamster on a hamster wheel running and running but you feel as if you are getting no where? That has been how my week has felt and I believed I couldn’t muster the energy to practice all I preach or find the time to do what I love because my little girl in the above picture needs me more than usual and outside events out of my control just seem to keep occurring causing me to stop focusing on the most important person in my life: me. I felt selfless this entire week because I have put all of my focus and energy on the little person I love more than anyone in this world. I thought I was being the best mom in the world. However, being selfless in many ways ends up being selfish. I write all the time what I truly believe: if you do not take care of yourself first than you will not be able to care for the ones you love the way they deserve. I do not always practice what I preach and today I had an hour while my daughter was in dance class to just sit. I have not been checking my emails this week because it has been crazy. I took a few minutes to open my Gmail account and BAM: two emails just written from two different women were there thanking me for my writing and telling me that I have been their Godsend. One of the woman’s emails to me was titled: Please Keep Writing. I have wanted to write all week but felt that there was not enough time and I had to do something else for my daughter or my home etc. I write for all of you but I also write for myself. Writing is my passion, helping people with chronic pain is my passion, and I thank the two people who took time out of their days to write me because you both gave me the push to take care of myself and my passions so that I am better able to care for others.
A young girl whom I will call M is nineteen and in her first year of college. She is yet another mini-version of myself when I was nineteen trying to find a cure to chronic pain while trying to figure out my major and fitting in with my peers: HELL! She has the same questions I had at her young age: “How were you able to go to college with chronic pain? How were you able to stop focusing on the pain? How did you find a way to fit in with your peers and have friends without seeming like the girl who is always in pain and tired?” My answers are my truth but they aren’t what anyone would want to hear: I went to college but was unable to keep up with my numerous doctors appointments, medications, procedures while trying to keep up my grades. College was awful for me. I compared myself to everyone and had no real support group because I was no longer at home where my only real support system at that time was my dad. I found a way to be with my peers and ‘fit in’ by doing what I beg you all not to do: drink and go out all the time just in order to numb the physical pain enough to not only try and have fun but to maintain friendships. How long was I able to keep up a great GPA, patient of the year in the doctor’s office, and maintain friendships while drinking my life away? I actually managed two years of this horrible, exhausting, depressing, un-fulfilling lifestyle until I broke down and everything fell apart. I dropped out of school so there was no GPA to maintain, I gave up on doctors and quit even trying to do anything healthy for myself, and moved to Colorado on a total whim. The only thing I was able maintain was drinking and ‘friends.’ It took losing everything I had to come to a point of reality: I had to accept chronic pain as part of my life, lose all my friends, put total focus on my health, and learn how to manage chronic pain naturally. I did not return to college until I was able to maintain a routine where chronic pain no longer controlled my life.
I know what many of you especially the person I am writing this for is thinking: “There is no way I would be able to live with chronic pain and be happy. It is impossible. How will I ever be happy? How will I ever have friends or the life I deserve? How will I ever study in college and even harder, how will I ever be able to work?” I get it. I felt the same exact way. However, do you have any of the above right now doing what you are doing? That comes out way too harsh and I apologise but do you? I did not. Nothing is going to work in your life until you find a way to manage and cope with pain. Many of my readers are in their late teens and early twenties and I know you feel like you have to figure everything out right now but you cannot and trying to do so will bring you more anxiety and grief than you could ever imagine. Stop your mind for just one second and give yourself a break. I promise you, a year from now or five years from now none of the things you think are important will be important except your health. Stop trying to make everything work outside of your life and make the inside work first. I wasted so many years, so much of my life fighting pain and overthinking everything until I had to surrender and truly focus on myself and my health.
I am far from perfect and still have struggles in my life and this week I have spent all my time fighting a battle that I cannot win. I stopped taking full care of myself and put all my focus on things I cannot control and my daughter. I have been overthinking and thinking into the future so much so that my brain literally feels dizzy and I am exhausted. Now is the time to use the tools I use to manage chronic pain to manage my worries and fears. Things always have a way of working themselves out but when we resist change in our lives or try and fight a battle that we cannot win, we end up miserable. I will never claim to know everything or have all the answers but the one thing I know is that you and I must take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone or anything else in our world. None of you are crazy or alone or need to have all the answers. I truly want to thank the people who emailed me this week. You are all healers to me as much as I am to you.