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Letting Go of What We Cannot Control

“Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.”

Jackson Kiddard

As I was practicing yoga this morning two words stuck with me that I knew I wanted to grow from: flexibility and the art of allowing.  Many people believe that doing yoga is an exercise to tone the body into better health and better flexibility of the muscles and tissues that make up our individual bodies.  However, that is just a small portion of what the art of yoga really is.  Yes, yoga has helped tone my body and has become a great form of exercise, it has also helped me become more flexible physically.  Yoga is also teaching me how to become more flexible in places that are far more important than the outside of my body: my heart and mind.  I will be very honest.  I am not a very flexible person.  There is a very sound reason as to why I am not flexible: chronic pain.  I manage chronic pain naturally and have a routine I follow each day in order to manage pain without pain managing me.  I spent a decade of my life with chronic pain consuming my entire life.  I lived, breathed, and felt pain inside and out for every single day of what could have been the best years of my life: my teen years and my early twenties.  I was in doctor’s offices or getting operations while my friends were on their phones planning what to do for the weekend.  I probably spent as many hours in waiting rooms as I did college classes.  My life could have been defined as: “hurry up and wait for a cure.”  After coming close to just ending my entire life I found what saved me and that was the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where I learned how to manage pain naturally.  I have a routine I follow daily that helps me in so many ways manage my pain without a cure or medications.  I am living as opposed to barely surviving.  I had to let go of the idea that I would find a cure and surrender to the fact that I could live a happy, healthy life despite pain.  I have had to give up a lot in order to manage pain how I choose but I had nothing when I was looking for a cure so the benefits outweigh the negatives one thousand percent.

However, there are ways I am learning to be more flexible.  I am a mother and one huge lesson motherhood will teach you is how to be flexible.  Our family went away this past weekend to Atlantic City, NJ for a long snowed in weekend.  Yes, I packed yoga DVD’s and some healthy snacks.  However, I had to be flexible.  I stayed up much later than usual and ate things I would not normally eat.  My schedule was totally thrown off but I was having so much fun swimming and just chilling out in pajamas in our hotel room that I really did not think about pain despite not following my usual management of chronic pain.  I surrendered to just letting go and having fun making memories with the people I love.  I was able to get back on my schedule yesterday and I must say what I do does work.  With that said, there are ways I need to be more flexible in my mind and heart which will allow me to be more flexible in my life.  Our thoughts create our reality and I would like my thoughts to be more flexible.  Our mind is like a huge muscle and we can work out our biceps and triceps as much as we want but if we do not focus on what is inside our minds and hearts we will never be truly happy.  I am working on being more flexible and allowing the dreams I have to come into my world without forcing them.  One can work towards a dream or goal without it taking control over their entire existence.  Everything I have gone through in my thirty five years has been teaching me how to be flexible: body mind and spirit and how to allow things to happen while working towards what you most desire.

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Break Out of Your Prison of Pain

 

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“One of the marvels of the world is seeing the sight of a soul sitting in a prison with the key in his hand.”

Rumi

I am tired of being afraid.  I am tired of living inside my box of fear when I do hold the key to my personal happiness.  For fifteen years I spent my life being afraid of physical pain and as many of you know the fear of pain is worse than the pain itself.  At times I am still filled with fear of pain but it no longer controls my life.  However, I am way too often stuck in my own box of fear that I forget to breathe and be calm and happy.  2016 was not an easy year for me.  However, I did learn a lot about myself and know the exact things I personally want to change in order for me to live the happiest life I can in the new year.

I am tired of being afraid of the past, the present and most of all the future.  I want to break free of this box of fear and live my life to the fullest.  I am tired of being fearful to express my feelings, emotions, and thoughts because of what someone will think or say.  No one has control over my happiness, my choices, or my life except myself.  I hold the key and I do find myself in my own tiny prison with that exact key in my hand too often.  I believe we all do in some way, shape or form.  What are you afraid of?  What prison are you living in that you want to break out of?

The prison I find myself in at times is very difficult to escape from as all of our personal prisons are.  We live in a world of fear but we can break free of our personal fears.  How?  I’m working on that.  I’m working on myself and I want to be the best version of me that I can be.  Happiness is an inside job that no person, place, or object can bring you.  Our thoughts determine our lives and I am sad to admit that many of my personal thoughts are derived from fear.  I am not taking away the credit I deserve and all of you deserve for the invisible battles we have each been given and fight every day.  We are all doing the best we can but maybe at times we are trying too hard.  I am extremely tired of overthinking every little thing.  Deep down I know that my fears are worse that what I am actually afraid of.  My fear of anxiety is worse than my anxiety itself just as my old fears of pain were worse than the pain itself.

I do not expect to be happy all the time nor do I expect everything to turn out exactly how I want and/or plan.  However, I do know that being afraid of things not working out how I dream or desire is not going to change the outcome.  I cognitively know all of these things but I am now ready to truly work on these thoughts that cause me added pain and anxiety.  I believe that fear is holding me back from my deepest dreams and desires and as I said in my first sentence: I am tired of being afraid.

How can you break free of your personal prison in this upcoming year.  Break out of your prison for you not for anyone else.  We are never too old to stop learning or growing.   I know many of you feel stuck.  Most of you feel stuck due to pain and I understand that feeling more than anyone.  What would your life look like if you stopped being afraid?  I do not have all the answers but I will be sharing with all of you what works in my new year and what does not work.  I truly want to find my personal peace and happiness without the constant ups and downs that come with life, chronic pain, and anxiety.  I know I can do it.  I know we all can.  You hold your key to your life.  Only you know how to open the lock.

 

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A New Year: Be Present

“Healing comes from gathering wisdom from past actions and letting go of the pain that the education taught you.”

Carolyn Myss

I have heard from multitudes of people that the year 2016 has been if not difficult, disastrous.  As I heal and enter into my next phase of working to bring another angel into this world, I realize that for me the year 2016 has come with many ups and many downs.  I have had some of the greatest moments in my life and honestly some of my worst.  I am truly trying to find the lessons that both the difficult times and amazing times have taught me.  With that said, I am going to share with you my New Year’s Resolutions.  I will also write down my very personal News Years resolutions that I do not want to share with the entire world, yes there are some things I do keep to myself and my close friends and loved ones.   However, I do want to share some of  my resolutions for all my readers to read in the hopes that some of you can relate to certain changes.  I know it is not yet Christmas but I feel that we can and should write down and think about resolutions many more times than just on a drunk filled holiday we call New Years.  So, here is what I have been thinking about regarding change, lessons, and things I would like to work on today and tomorrow and for my upcoming year as well.

  1. I am what one would call an over thinker, a worry wart, and a person who logically knows things work out but find it very difficult to turn my brain to belief instead of worry.  I do not know what came first: anxiety or chronic pain.  I believe I have had anxiety since I was a very small person and following my bike accident and subsequent chronic pain this anxiety only intensified.  Anxiety and chronic pain can become a vicious cycle.  Anxiety increases pain and pain increases anxiety.  I am going to truly work on changing my thoughts.  Once I begin thinking something that worries to me to no end such as the troubles we have faced having another child, I go into catastrophic mode and start thinking months, years into the future wondering what will happen, when it will happen, how it will happen, and then the what if’s come in which are much more daunting than the what’s.  What if’s are two words that I am cognitively going to start deleting from my conscious mind and my vocabulary.  I need to keep remembering and plan to write this down where I can see it every day this: “Everything I have ever dreamed of happening but have been caught in fear that it will not happen always ends up happening just not how I planned.”  I am going to practice following my dreams but not forcing my dreams.  I need to allow things to come into my life with open arms instead of worrying that my dreams will not come to fruition.  Like the saying goes: worrying is like paying interest on a debt you will probably never owe.
  2. Comparison is so called the thief of joy and I find myself comparing myself and my life with other’s which is not only illogical but causes me sadness.  As far as I have come in my journey with chronic pain, I still find myself almost annoyed when I see someone in acute pain (pain that will only lasts hours or at most days.)  People with chronic pain would be thrilled to have acute pain however, my reality is chronic pain and comparing myself to other people’s lives steals my inner peace and joy.  I should be applauding myself for how far I have come and what I great life I have despite my invisible illness.  There are many other things I find myself wishing I had instead of being grateful for what I have in this space and time.  Social media has a huge influence on societies personal views on their own lives.  As people look on sites such as Facebook and Instagram they only see the happy moments in a person’s life.  No one posts pictures of the hard times and the sad/difficult moments in their daily lives only the great ones, myself included.  We need to remember this if we are on social media sites.  Many of us would be better off taking time away from the internet if it is bringing sadness and/or distraught feelings.  If something does not make you happy, do not look at it.  We all need to stop comparing our lives to other’s lives whom we think have it all because I promise you if you lived in their shoes for a week you would probably miss your own life a lot.
  3. I have started practicing yoga more and have lessened the amount of cardio I do for both chronic pain and anxiety.  For about two weeks now I have practiced a solid hour yoga session each morning and see how much yoga truly touches body, mind, and spirit.  It is not only the poses and exercises I love, it is the words coming from the instructors voice.  I learn a lot of lessons both consciously and sub-consciously as I move through each pose. I love exercise as a result of chronic pain.  It truly helps me a ton and I love cardio more than any other form of exercise.  However, I am trying to work on my inner self more than my outer self.  I never imagined yoga would teach me so much.  I truly believe our school systems should incorporate some sort of yoga into our student’s daily life.
  4. I need to chill out.  I become so consumed with fear of the future and thoughts from my past that I forget to live in the present moment.  I used to tell my patients: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift and that is why it is called the present.” It is so easy to say aloud or even write down: live more presently but it is one of the most difficult things to do.  For example, when you are taking a shower in the morning are you thinking about how great your hair smells in the wraths of shampoo or are you thinking about what you have to do next?  We are rarely fully present and we miss out on so much of life’s blessings and joys because we are always thinking forward.  I have found that if I focus on my breath and calm myself down when I start getting anxious about the future (even if the future thought is ten minutes ahead of me) I can bring myself back to the present time.  My dad asked me for Christmas what I wanted and the one thing that stuck out was a very awesome day planner.  Right now I have like four different ones I use instead of just one go to planner.  I find that if I write down exactly what needs to be done each day I can let go of the thoughts of the future because they are already written down.
  5. Finally I need to tap into my faith.  I need to surrender my dreams to the Universe and allow what is going to come into my life to come without worry or grief.  I need to believe, surrender, and let go.  What if we spend all this time worrying and planning our future when the Universe already has it mapped out for us?  If that is the case then we are all carrying around fifty pound weights for no reason.  I plan to truly take one day at a time and some days will be difficult and some days will be amazing but there is some joy in every day.  One of the last presents I gave my Grandmother before she passed was a magnet that says: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”  I think in this coming year we all need to cultivate more faith into our lives and let go and be lead towards our divine plan.

 

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12 Gift Ideas to Give to Someone with Chronic Pain

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The holidays can be a very exciting, magical, happy time for many people while for others it is very stressful, depressing, and exhausting.  I remember during my darkest hours of chronic pain dreading my favorite holiday in the world: Christmas.  I have always adored the magic of Christmas: the lights, shopping for my loved ones, Christmas cards, Christmas carols, decorating with my family, Santa, and just feeling that sense of joy as the world went from brown leaves falling to the ground to streets filled with lights and stores windows stocked with festive trinkets.  Once chronic pain began to control my life I despised Christmas.  Everyone was so happy and I was miserable.  I was asked more questions than usual about why I was so sad and isolated.   People had always known me as the enthusiastic, vibrant girl who brought Christmas everywhere she went.  That girl was gone for many years and I thank my father who always believed in me, the Mayo Clinic for teaching me how to live with chronic pain naturally, and I thank myself for doing the hardest work of my life in my management with chronic pain to once again love this time of year more than I ever have.

I was recently asked what a person with chronic pain would want as a gift for Christmas.  The easy, most logical answer would be: a cure to chronic pain.  I wished for that for fifteen years but I am at a different place with chronic pain than I once was and can now answer that question.  I manage pain naturally and if I was still suffering as I once was with this invisible illness I know what I would want to receive as a Christmas present from my loved ones.  Here are the top twelve things that stand out more than anything when I think of Christmas and chronic pain.

  1. A hand written card that speaks from your heart to your loved one with chronic pain.  A letter expressing love and support without any pity.  Words that express how strong you believe your loved one to be and that although you are unable to understand what your loved one faces on a daily basis you are always there to support he or she in anyway they need.  People with chronic pain isolate themselves and feel beyond misunderstood especially from the people they love most.  They feel unworthy of love and need to be reminded that they are not their invisible illness and reminded of just how loved they are.  Most importantly they need to know you believe them; although you cannot see their illness you know it is there.  Words are powerful and will stick with your loved one far longer than any object can.

2.  A CD on yoga nidra.  People with chronic pain find it very difficult to sleep.  Many spent most of their days exhausted, excited just to get into bed and fall asleep and yet once their head hits the pillow they are unable to sleep.  Yoga Nidra is the meditative heart of yoga and is one of the most fantastic, helpful tools I have found to help me manage chronic pain.  It takes a tiny bit of ‘practice’ however all one needs is a CD player or an MP3 player, a pillow and blanket and he or she is set.  A half hour to an hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to about three to four hours of sleep.  It took me who is one of the most anxious persons you could meet about three times before I did fall into a deep meditative trance and awoke feeling like a new person.  You can find Yoga Nidra on http://www.amazon.com or any online site that sells music, books, and/or yoga DVDs.

3.  Essential oils such as Lavender, Eucalyptus, or Peppermint.  Essential oils mixed with Epson Salts create the most relaxing bath one could imagine.  There are times I will take a bath with Lavender and Epson Salts and just practice deep belly breathing.  I may listen to a meditation CD or just lay there concentrating on the scents and the feeling of my breathing.  Twenty minutes in a bath with oils is beneficial to anyone!

4. A gift certificate for a pedicure.  Pedicures are not only relaxing but very healing and grounding as well.  I love getting pedicures because it gives me a solid hour to just sit in a nice, light massage chair (which one does not have to use) and allow myself to be pampered.  I always bring a book as I do not like to talk during my one hour of relaxation.

5.  Candles!  I am a huge fan of candles and love practicing yoga in the morning surrounded by candles.  They are not only healing but they smell delicious.  One of the first things I do in the morning before I exercise is light the candles I have on our living room mantle.  Right now the candles are the smells of Christmas and one of my personal favorite smells is the smell of a Christmas tree so it is obvious to those who know me why my current candles are green.

6.  An adult coloring book along with a box of colored pencils.  Whoever came up with adult coloring books is brilliant!  My dad gave me my first adult coloring book along with a beautiful tin filled with colored pencils and I love it!  Who knew that coloring could be so therapeutic and healing.  I should have known I would enjoy coloring the beautiful pictures as I love coloring with my toddler.  However, coloring scenes of gardens, oceans, and designs is a little more up my alley than coloring pictures of Mickey Mouse.

7.  Pending on your loved one’s degree of pain and where he or she is in their journey with chronic pain a great gift could be either a yoga DVD or a gift certificate to a yoga class. Anyone can do yoga and I mean that.  There are multitudes of various types of yoga from chair yoga to power yoga to yoga for chronic pain.  If it was fifteen years ago and I was given this gift I probably would have cried because my mind truly believed I was unable to do any movement but now I love yoga and see that it is beneficial to everyone: chronic pain or no chronic pain.

8.  A journal that speaks to you about your loved one.  I clearly love writing and keep a journal however I find it easier to write in a journal when it is in my eyes beautiful.  Writing is an amazing outlet for anyone but especially those with chronic pain.  One can write down their deepest worries and their personal truth.  I find it very helpful to write down my worries before I go to sleep and leave them aside for another time.

9. A day planner.  It may sound ridiculous but just because someone has chronic pain does not mean he or she does not have a life.  Many people with chronic pain/anxiety often have a mind that never stops racing. I live for my day planner.  I write a to do list every night before I go to sleep and love the feeling of crossing something off the following day once my errand or what have you has been accomplished.  I exercise every morning but I still write it down on my to do list at night because it helps me to feel extra motivated and structured.

10.  Stationary: ok, obviously one can tell by now I really like writing!  There are many people who have chronic pain who do not know how to verbalize how they are feeling or their love for you.  Often times writing letters on pretty stationary helps a person with an invisible illness feel more human so to speak.  He or she wants you to know how much they love you but are often times in too much pain: body/mind and spirit to verbalize their feelings.  Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a letter in the mail instead of a bill?

11. As I come to the end of my list I remind myself that you know your loved one much better than I do!  I may know chronic pain better but you know what your loved one enjoys: books, music, funny movies?  Please remember that we as people with chronic pain do not want to be defined by our invisible illness.  Sometimes the greatest gift can be your loved one’s favorite movie.  Comedies are great because there are times where the saying: laughter is the best medicine is extremely true.  I use distractions constantly in my journey with chronic pain and I find that my hobbies help train my brain to not think about pain.

12. The title of my website is http://www.noonegetsflowersforchronicpain.com.  Therefore, get your loved one some flowers!  One of my favorite movies is entitled: “The Breakup” with Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn.  In the beginning of the movie they start arguing over who is going to wash the dishes after a family dinner.  Vince Vaughn sits down to watch the game that is on television and Anniston cannot believe that she is expected to wash the dishes after preparing the entire meal and cleaning prior to having their family over.  Anniston says to Vince Vaughn: “Gary I want you to WANT to wash the dishes!”  In turn Vince Vaughn (Gary) replies: “Why would I want to wash the dishes?!”  The argument escalates and Anniston ends up saying: “Ya know wouldn’t it be nice if you thought one day: ‘hey maybe I should buy my girlfriend some flowers.'”  Vaughn replies: “You told me on our very first date that you do not like flowers.”  Anniston then says with conviction: “Every girl likes flowers Gary!”  Everybody deserves flowers on occasion Christmas or no Christmas, chronic pain or no chronic pain.

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Your Cracks and Scars are What Heal You

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“It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgements about them, their present and their past but you would be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides.  What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight.  And more often than not, its lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the soul.”

Unknown

I am a person filled with cracks and scars that do go all the way to my soul.  For a good part of my life I allowed these cracks and scars to harden me and become a person I did not love or even enjoy being around.  Self hate is truly the most powerful hate there is because it can cause a person to act out in hate towards others when really the only person he or she is unhappy with is themselves and/or their life circumstances.  I am still filled with cracks and scars that are not visible to the outside world however I no longer hate myself.  I can be excruciatingly hard on myself and perfectionism can get the best of me but I do not hate who I am.  I am filled with more self love now than I have had in all my thirty five years on the planet.  I no longer look at my cracks and scars as my enemy but as the building blocks that are creating my present and future.  Life is ten percent of what happens to us and ninety percent of how we respond to it.

This year has been jam packed with ups and downs.  I have had the highest highs and the lowest lows.  I have had miracles arise and devastations arise.  Ten years ago I would pity myself without welcoming pity from others.  I would have allowed the bad things that have occurred to define my identity.  Now, I try and find the silver lining.  I try and find the lesson behind each great thing that happens and each difficult thing that happens.  There are many things that have happened to me to bring me to the place within myself where I reside now: chronic pain, losses, mistakes, and my daughter Kayci.  I have faith in myself and my future because of my cracks and scars.  Look at that little four year old girl above who is just about to see Santa Clause and is literally holding in her built up excitement.  I am the lucky person that she calls Mommy.  She believes in magic and she helps me believe in magic because in my eyes she is magic herself.  One of my biggest losses happened in 2010 when I lost our son at about nine weeks gestational age.  Had that little angel not left us, I would not know or have this miracle daughter.

I had my bike accident in my young teens and have had chronic pain since.  For so many years all I thought about was how to get rid of my pain.  I not only thought about it but pain consumed my life, the life of my family, and a multitude of doctors and specialists who could not for the life of them find a cure to my invisible illness.  A day did not go by in which I did not think about a life without pain.  I am thirty five now and still have chronic pain and had you told me fifteen years ago I would be living with chronic pain naturally and having a fulfilled life despite pain, I would have either laughed in your face or cried in your face.  But, here I am living a life where pain does not dictate my life.  I have written and said this many times but it is just so relevant and true to all our stories: “If there is something that you do not go a day without thinking about or wishing for than you will find a way to achieve whatever it is you wish for.”  I never found a cure to chronic pain but my life took me on a different path where I learned to live with it and be happy despite pain.  In many ways my wish that I did not go one single hour without thinking about did come true just not in the way I had expected it to.  As you all know, I do not go a day without thinking about having another child and extending our family. Clearly it is not happening how I had wished and hoped for it to happen but it will happen because if nothing else chronic pain taught me that you never give up on something you do not go a day without thinking about.   In the meantime I am going to do everything in my personal power to bring me closer to my dream while still enjoying and being grateful for what I do have in this time and place.

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Strength in the Midst of Pain

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“No matter how justified you are in your negative emotion, you are still messing up your future.”

Abraham Hicks

When I first read the quote above I found it to be quite harsh however the quote stuck with me and every time something I read or hear stays in my mind, I know there is some meaning in it for me.  Everyone who has chronic pain is beyond justified to feel many negative emotions.  I lived, breathed, and survived through negative emotions for over ten years due to chronic pain.  You are all beyond justified to feel depressed, angry, frustrated, misunderstood, and at times hopeless.  Despite how far I have come with my personal journey with chronic pain I am still justified in feeling negative emotions at times due to my invisible illness.  However, there came a time for me and it will come for you as well that you realize you do have a choice in how you manage your pain and how you allow your pain to either better your life or destroy your life.  Pain destroyed everything in my life for a solid third of my time in this world.  Once I did the hardest work of my life and began to manage pain naturally and found ways to live with chronic pain without it controlling my life, my days began to get better and better therefore leading to a better future, a future I never imagined I would have.

As most of you know I had a terrible loss ten days ago and although I am still filled with a multitude of emotions and can cry at the drop of a hat, the cry of a baby, or even a commercial for diapers I have come to a point where I am once again excited to make and bring a healthy, happy baby into this world.  I never lost hope but I am now changing my thoughts (as much and as often as I can) into positive thoughts.  When I first heard those words ten days ago: “There is no heart beat”  I felt like my heart and soul were being ripped to shreds and I did lay in bed for days crying and catastrophizing.  I did not want to celebrate Thanksgiving and the thought of Christmas made me cry harder than one can imagine.  But, I awoke one morning and decided to get up and get back to living.  I got back to my natural management of chronic pain routine.  For a week I have been waking up at five am, exercising, writing, decorating for Christmas, and began to remember how much I have to be grateful for.  I took the picture above of my daughter Kayci on Thanksgiving.  She is an angel.  Had I not had a miscarriage on February 2nd, 2010 my daughter would not be here and the world would not be the same.  She makes people happy.  She has a zest for life that gives others a zest for life they did not know they still had.  I know from the bottom of my heart that the loss I just faced not only saved a baby from a very painful life but also is going to allow another angel come into the world, just as the loss I faced in 2010 brought Kayci into this world.

We never can say what, when or how emotional pain will settle (not go away) but calm down to a state of acceptance and we are not supposed to know as we all grieve in our own ways and no one can be judged for how they deal with their pain or grief.  There is no time limit.  I awoke a couple days ago and my first thought was not of the excruciating pain of the loss that just occurred but with an excitement to start over.  I believe chronic pain and other challenges I have faced in this world have given me an added boost of strength because had this happened years ago I would still be in bed crying.  I do not want to forget all I have while working towards what I want, what my family wants, what my angelic daughter wants.  It will happen.  Yes, I am still grieving and I would be lying if I said I did not cry once or twice a day but I am still grateful and excited for my future.  I am justified to have many negative emotions and I did live in those negative emotions for days.  I want to be positive and happy and I do thank God for my faith that dreams do come true but not on our schedule.

I want to dedicate this post to Kristen who recently wrote me an email and helped me see the strength I do have.   I know you all have that strength too even if you do not see it at this moment.

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abandonment, Angels, Anger, Anxiety, Brain Surgery, chronicpain, Depression, dreams, Griveving Process, Happiness, Infertility, Law of Attraction, mindfulness, Miracles, Support for Chronic Pain

Grief and Loss

e41704c961ed761a0a5bf1e67a055189“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing.  Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim.”

Vicki Harrison

I am a survivor of  brain surgery and live with chronic pain every day of my life.  If you follow my story you know that I manage pain naturally and pain does not control my life or happiness as it once did fifteen years ago.  I have not allowed chronic pain to take away my dreams and continue to fight for those who are struggling with this terrifying invisible illness we call chronic pain.  If you have chronic pain or any invisible illness you are well aware that the last thing a person wants from others is pity.  One of my favorite quotes is: “I do not want you to save me.  I want you to stand by me as I save myself.”  With that said, I am going to share with you a loss that occurred this week that has caused a tsunami of emotions that can be just as painful as physical pain, if not more so at times.  For ten years I believed that chronic pain took away my biggest dream in the entire world, to have a family and be a mother.  Ever since I was a young girl my biggest dream was to be a mom.  Yes, I knew even as a child that I wanted to help people and I always loved writing but the one thing I knew I could not ever bear was a life without children.  For ten years I drowned in the depths and sorrows of chronic pain which came close to killing me.  I never believed I would be where I am now: I have a degree in social work, I am a writer, I am living a healthy life despite chronic pain but the most magical thing that has happened is having my daughter, Kayci.  I am a better mother and person than I would have had I not fallen off of my bike had brain surgery and subsequent chronic pain.  I was recently pregnant and was as happy as I had been when my daughter Kayci came into this world.  I spent weeks dealing with morning sickness and all the fun ailments that come with pregnancy but none of that mattered to me because I was pregnant!  Finally!!!  At about ten weeks or so, I was so confident my pregnancy was healthy and everything was on track that I announced my miracle to the world.  Last week I went for my final appointment with my fertility specialist as I was about to enter my second trimester and the ultrasound technician was unable to find my baby’s heartbeat.  I lost it.  I screamed: “Find it! Find it!  Please God no!!!!!”   I was shaking and sweating and in a state of shock I do not ever remember being in.  The following morning I had a D&E and I spent the following two days in bed crying, watching mindless television, and just staring at the walls.  I felt empty and kept seeing the picture of our baby on the ultrasound screen.  I connected to this baby and I believe only a woman can understand how strong a love can be for someone they have never met.  One day there are two heart beats inside of you and then without warning or preparation one of those heartbeats is gone.  For a day or so you wish the heartbeat that had stopped was your own because in a way it has.

It is crazy how common miscarriages are and I am sure most of you reading this have either faced your own loss or know someone who has.  However, just because something is ‘normal’ or ‘common’ does not make the pain any less.  Cancer is very common but that does not change the immense pain this terrible disease causes.  We are all human and you are allowed to grieve in whatever way you need to in order to heal yourself.  I am not sharing what has recently occurred in my life to bring people down or receive any comments of pity or sorrow.  Quite the contrary, I am sharing what I have just faced in order to help those who are going through something similar.  I am also sharing this story which is not what I usually write about to show how strong each and every one of us are.

I had a D & E February 2nd, 2010 and lost a son.  I did not get out of bed for about two weeks and watched more re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210 than I care to remember.  I once again believed my dream of having children was shattered and my life began to unravel and I went back to a life of pain, both physical and emotional.  It took me a long time to snap out of this grief.  My daughter was born February 2nd, 2011: a year/hour to the date and time we lost our son.  If I had not had that loss in 2010, I would not have the most amazing, beautiful, funny, angelic daughter than I am now blessed with.  I know her older brother was watching out for her and he is one of our angels.  So, am I going to go into catastrophic mode and begin believing I will never have another child: NO.  Do not get me wrong, I am grieving.  It has only been six days and although each day gets somewhat easier, I would be lying if I said I did not cry multiple times during the day.  Am I cheerful, happy, enthusiastic Jessica?  No.  I am doing the best that I can and no hope has been lost that the Universe has a plan and I have zero doubt that I will have another child.  I have learned exactly what people who are going through the loss of a baby do not want to hear and I feel it is important to share for those of you who know someone who is facing this very difficult, emotional loss.  Here are the five things that stand out to me the most as I have faced this loss.

1. Maybe it is enough just to have one child.

2. It was not in God’s plans.  You don’t need to be sad, clearly this just was not meant to be.

3. You do not have to try again to have another child.  Why put yourself through that?

4. I thought you were just happy? What happened?  You are crying again.

5. I feel so bad for you!  You worked so hard for this.  Are they sure?

No, I am not giving up on my dream to have another child and that does not take away the immense love I have for my daughter.  Chronic pain taught me that if you cannot go a day without thinking about something you desire, you have the power to make that something come true.  This is a difficult time but this hardship does not define me or my strength.  I cry in waves, I laugh in waves, I dream in waves, I get angry in waves, but the one feeling that has no waves is my strength and belief.  My strength and belief that I will bring another child into this world is at bay.  I am not worried about having another child because I will and long down the road will look at this just as I look at the loss I faced in 2010.  However, people are allowed to grieve in their own way for their own loss, their own invisible illness, and their own personal life.  You have no obligation to justify your choices for yourself, your family or your life and no one should ever make you feel as if you have to justify your dreams and choices.  This is your life.  This is your pain.  This is your hope.  This is your power.  Just as with chronic pain, the three most important words you can ever say to someone who is hurting is: “I believe you” or “I believe in you.”

Even miracles take time

-Fairy Godmother

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