I’ve got a couple of big, emotional pieces coming up that i’m not looking forward to – and this is one of them. Right now, all my feelings are very close to the surface. Chronic pain has a way of stripping away everything you use to protect yourself, until there’s nothing left but the brutal, naked truth. There’s no energy for anything but coping.
It doesn’t have to be that way, but it does. I’ll tell you why.
I was going to my high school reunion. I’d been planning it for a while, and it was the night before i was to leave. I should have stayed home and gotten a solid 8hrs sleep, but i was dating this new guy, and i was falling for him like i’d never fallen for anybody. I went to his place and he made supper, and we lay in bed after, and he just held me all night. No sex -we hadn’t been intimate yet- but my body was on fire . I didn’t get a wink of sleep and i was punch drunk and stupid with lust. I went home and picked up my kids and my sister, and i set off on the drive to stay with my grandparents and attend my 10yr reunion, 833km away.
Yeah. I had no business behind the wheel for any distance, but i packed my 5yr old and my baby and my kid sister into my big ass old van and blithely navigated highway traffic. Yeah. To put all those precious people at grave risk apparently wasn’t enough for me, so i picked up a Belgian hitchhiker.
Yeah. I rolled my van 2 1/2 times. I threw that poor young man out and broke his collarbone. My oldest son still bears the scar from the deep scalp laceration. I could have killed them all: a stranger, my babies, and the sister i’d tried so hard to save.
Luckily, the only lasting damage i did was to myself. When we were finally stopped by a ditch culvert, upside down, i felt something just… i don’t know, give way in my back, and i knew it was bad.
Yeah. I’d spent my entire school career being messed up and awkward and my reunion was no different. Such not surprise. Heh.
Although my back injury healed, i was experiencing widespread, diffuse muscle pain, which my truly spectacular family doctor suspected was Fibromyalgia. She sent me to a specialist who confirmed her suspicions. I don’t know how much you know about the condition, but all you really need to know is that i was in constant pain, and it never went away. My doctor tried everything and nothing gave me any relief until i found over-the-counter codeine, which i immediately began abusing all day, every day. I could go through a 250tab bottle in 5 days, easily. That’s a lot, like a dangerous lot. It still didn’t do enough, but i kept at it for about 5 or 6 yrs, when i quit it, cold turkey.
So how then, you may ask, did i cope with the pain that didn’t magically disappear, and in fact had become even worse, as of course is the way with an opioid addiction. Well, i had something else on my horizon, and that was Bipolar Disorder getting its hooks in me and with it came a hard drinking, party lifestyle. Oh, and it didn’t take long before i was so out of control that i couldn’t hide my dissociations any longer. Rather than just happening when i was undergoing extreme emotional distress or feared for my safety, it was happening at any time, and it was happening often.
So in other words, if i wasn’t feeling no pain because i was drunk off my ass, i was feeling no pain because i was completely dissociated from my body.
It’s taken years to get here, and i’ve traded one kind of pain for another. Now, i don’t mean that to sound as fatalistic and whiny as i know it does, but hey, i’m in a lot of pain. Physical pain. And i’m not running from it for the first time since my diagnosis over 20yrs ago. I’m not medicating with pills or booze, or street drugs, and i’m not leaving my body to escape it. I’m here and i’m feeling it and HOLY FRICKETY FRACK does it hurt. I can feel the pain in my body when i’m dreaming for pity’s sake.
But i needed to take control of my brain, and i knew the day would come when i’d have to work harder and do more in order to stay on track. I have to find a way to cope with this physical pain without abusing drugs or letting the inmates run my asylum.
Last year around this time i made a lot of hard decisions, and my reward is that i’m as fully present and conscious of myself, my surroundings, my situation, my relationships, my choices, and my desires as i have perhaps ever been before. No, not perhaps. Definitely. I’ve never been more capable of being who i want to be and doing what i want to do as i am right now.
I’m beginning to envision the kind of human i want to be now. I can also !FINALLY! look back and see all the work i’ve done and be proud. Because i’ll tell you something – i have never given up. Even when i was in the absolute shit of it all, i was always trying. I wanted to be better and do better and understand what in the hell was wrong with me. And now i know and i’m very better. Not all the way and never fixed, but WOW kinda better.
I guess the gift in the pain is i’m just too exhausted to deal with all my bullshittery anymore, let alone anyone else’s. My emotional pain carved away all the relationships and activities and interactions that were standing in the way of me just growing the hell up. I expect my physical pain will do something along the same lines. I don’t exactly know yet how i’m gonna deal with it, but i know that i will deal with it, head on, and no checking out.
There will be whimpering, though. And some whining. Perhaps some whinging.
I’ll end with some happy news: That guy that kept me up all night? Next year we’ll be married 20yrs.
Love and Peace,