Well, Ain’t That A Kick in the Head?

Mid-October 2016 is the last time i wrote about my physical pain at any length. It hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s been steadily, yet thankfully slowly, building since back then. This new therapy has intensified my fibromyalgia pain, but it’s more than that. Sure, pain can be based in psychic trauma, and the stresses of day-to-day living can amp it up, but there’s more going on.

I’m just not dissociating as much.

I’ve done all this work and it’s brought me here. I know i refer to it in nearly every piece i write, but i’m not sorry for the repetition. It’s important, i think, to hammer it home for anyone reading my blog. It’s one of the most important things i want to get across. Not that this kind of thing takes a lot of work; this dealing with childhood abuse, and the way the brain and body copes with the devastation.

You already know that.

What i’m driving at is that it’s all work that we’re doing – this surviving it.
It’s all good work.

I hurt, and i had a dysfunctional and unsatisfying life and i wondered why.
I thought about it and i asked questions and took suggestions and tried things. And then i thought some more and i talked to people – professionals, friends, mentors, religious and lay folks, gurus, anybody… everybody. And then i thought some more. I pondered and i marinated, and i tried some more stuff and read books and went to lectures and joined groups and took courses, and i drew a smidge of wisdom from this and a pocketful of encouragement there and a wee cup of self-awareness from that, and i kept on going.
I picked up tiny jewels of truth here and there and i locked them up in a vault inside me, guarding them carefully, watching over them like treasure, like innocent babies who only had me to keep them safe.

All this movement, all this questing, all this work, all this surviving i did over the years, and yet i despaired a thousand times that i was getting nowhere, changing nothing, and learning little, fearing that i would be forever lost and broken and rudderless.

I kept looking back and seeing only the passage of time and my footprints.
Plus lots and lots of mess.
There were times i stopped. Sometimes frozen with fear, sometimes collapsed with exhaustion, sometimes consumed with rage, and many, many times weighed down to immobility by the cruel and crushing weight of my past.

But i learned to weather those tonic storms, to honour them, and as i’ve worked and persevered, i’ve drawn closer to the light.

There’s enough light now that i can look back and see, with emergent clarity, that nothing i did or did not do was in vain. All the mess was garbage that needed to be tossed: structures that needed to be torn down, toxic relationships that needed to be ended, hoarded memories that needed purging. The swamps filled with poison that i swam around in – it was poison that had washed out of ME, and i left it behind when i finally crawled out, cleansed. It was all good work.

Because i sought, because i wanted, because i tried, it all mattered.
Here, in this moment, i have both peace and confidence. I am, at last, at a place where i am no longer at the whim of unconscious and reflexive coping skills and protective actions that ceased being helpful long ago.
I am leaving behind my life in the land of the dead, and moving into the light, to live with the living. Yes, there are bits and pieces of me that are still afraid, but i’m not anymore.
I’m no longer stuck in a feedback loop, replaying the horrors of my past.

I’m in this current bit of business now because i want to be. I’ve done enough to manage and be okay, both for myself and my loved ones. But i want MORE. I want the next level, whatever it is that is more than just enough – and i suspect that is usefulness.

And to that end i am telling you, that i think, that as long as i keep seeking and wanting and trying, that nothing i have done or not done will be in vain.

**********

I was talking about physical pain. Right. Heh.

I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia in early ’98, after a car accident in August of the prior year. I tried many different treatments, all to little or no avail. I suffered tremendously – and then suddenly i didn’t. I mean, i still had pain, for sure, but it wasn’t like before. The intensity lessened and i was no longer consumed by it, every day, all day, where it even chased me into my dreams and i would moan and cry myself awake.

At first i thought it was a supplement i’d been given to try, but when that stuff was scientifically debunked, i stopped taking it and my symptoms did not intensify. I still had the occasional flareup, but my pain levels didn’t spike nearly as high as they had. I thought maybe i’d just become acclimated.
I watched other people with the diagnosis suffer far more, and i told myself i was fortunate to not’ve been afflicted as terribly as they.

This was shortly after my massive weight loss, the mania that followed, and the more conscious and chaotic experience of my multiplicity that quickly took hold of me whilst in that state.

It’s probably obvious where i’m going with this, but i’ll spell it out anyway.

As i’ve become sounder of mind and clearer of purpose, so has my pain become bigger and harder to ignore. I’ve tempered the voices in my head and adjusted their various volumes, only to have the confusion they brought replaced by so-called “fibro fog”, which happens when pain saps my energy and robs me of deep sleep.

I remember my doctor sending me to our city’s FMS specialist, for an official diagnosis. I don’t know if it’s still done this way, but one of the things he checked was my response to certain trigger points in my body. All but 2 of them were very tender.
The pain was terrific, sometimes all i knew. There were days i couldn’t move without tears. I gained a prodigious amount of weight. I slept my days away, yet never felt rested.

Then i had another baby and i needed to do better. So i had weight loss surgery, and well, i’ve already mentioned here what followed: thin begat bipolar mania begat dissociative chaos begat a parade of people who live in my brain coming out to experience life in the face and wreak not a small amount of havoc.
But my fibro had become easily manageable. I figured the weight loss had done it.

I spent years learning how my brain worked and how to coexist with my Bits N’ Pieces and live a decently functional life.
And i got there and thought i was done.
But i wasn’t satisfied after a while, and more than that, i became unsettled, my carefully constructed wa was rattled. I then did what i do — i thought about it and went looking for answers and for help finding them.
And what i found was that there was more work to do if i wanted, and i knew right away that i did.

This work involves being in my body and feeling my feelings -both emotions and physical sensations- while being present in my brain and listening to what it’s saying. My thoughts and my emotions and my sensations have been disconnected from each other since i was a baby enduring trauma.
I’m bringing myself back together, and the physical pain is a sign that it’s working.

Well, ain’t that a kick in the head?

It’s all coming back to me now. The pain, the insidiousness of it, the gaping maw of it. I see how it swallowed me whole back then, and i looked up hopelessly from the bottom of its belly as it slowly digested me.
This time ’round it’s different.
The pain is still incredible. I’ve woken to a painful throat from moaning in my sleep. Mornings are awful, the pain and the stiffness at times barely tolerable. I often wake as tired as i was when i fell asleep, or more. It’s advanced in severity over the years, quietly and unbeknownst to me. I can feel it seeping into the bones of my hands, like i’ve been in subzero temperatures with no gloves. I was recently diagnosed with osteopenia in my lumbar region, and i can feel the fibro ache radiating like an electric sun. I’m going in to see the doctor after a bunch of tests that were ordered because i’m now telling her about things i used to ignore, like chronic UTIs, like plummeting blood sugar, like maybe tennis elbow?

And friends, writing is a misery. I have little energy, and my brain is cloudy. I can’t find the words to formulate a cohesive sentence, and i get frustrated and tired out so quickly. Grrr. Argh.
But i’m learning too, and it’s not as hard as it once was. Because i’m in my body and feeling the pain, i can figure out where and how much i can push through it. I’m finding ways to still have the quality of life i desire, according to my current set of limitations. I’m being reasonable, and careful, and conscious. One of the most helpful things i’ve learned over the years is that small tweaks over time is what works best for me. Don’t push too hard or too fast, jumping in with both feet doesn’t tend to work well.

All the work i’ve done prior is coming into play. The small tweaks, the slow pace, the mindfulness, sharing my thoughts with a safe person, breathing, gentle self-talk, hygiene, and today, finishing a piece for my blog in spite of wicked pain. A piece that took many more days than i’d wish, but a thing that wouldn’t have been conceivable, let alone doable, all those years ago when fibromyalgia first made a meal out of me.

One more thing – i thought the urge to dissociate from this pain would be a constant battle, but amazingly, it’s not. Once again, i believe it’s all the work i’ve done that’s making this possible. I’ve been careful and diligent with the others who live with me in my brain. I’ve gotten to know them and addressed their concerns and met their needs as much as i’m able, thus winning their trust and earning their compliance and assistance. We’re as close to one mind as we’ve ever been, and so my desire has become theirs. My work, their work.

I’m not looking to suffer, i don’t think there’s anything redemptive or rewarding to be found in it, but it’s what some people do, every day. They learn to cope, to live, with suffering and pain, emotional and physical. They don’t leave their bodies, they don’t perform psychic surgery on themselves, they don’t play dead – they deal with it.

I want to be more like regular people, like normal people. Let me immediately follow that statement by saying a couple of things:

1) I don’t want to hear about What’s normal? Who’s normal?
While i grok the sentiment behind it, i know what i mean when i say that – to be just a little bit more like other people. You are of course, free to not want those things.
And,

2) I’m both mentally ill and neuroatypical, depending on your definitions, and while i’d love to ditch the Bipolar Disorder, that’s not how it works and i’m okay with that. Being a multiple is considered by some to be more neuroatypical than a disorder, and although i’m moving in a direction that some might call integration, i personally don’t see how my brain works in that regard as a “disorder”.
NOTE: I am not a professional, these are just the thoughts and feels of someone living with it, not someone who’s gone to school to understand and treat it.

I want to live as present a life as i can, including feeling pain, both physical and not.


Yeah, i’m still a bit crazy.
I like me this way.

IMAGE: Without Hope (1945), Frida Kahlo

Schmozzle

I usually write after the bad stuff has happened, but recently, i’ve been trying to write through it, to open myself up a bit more. I write for me, and for anyone reading this that might find benefit… The days following my last post were decent, i could feel myself settling in to what’s coming in therapy – going deeper and tuning in to the story my body wants to tell me about my childhood. I got back into some regular activities and regimens: housework, hygiene, communicating with family and even a couple of friends. Normalcy, and with it, some peace.

Unfortunately, my physical health has taken a nosedive. I’m in full fibro flareup, which is bad enough, but i’ve got some new issues as well and they’re sapping what little energy i have to cope. I’ve been handling it the way my therapist has encouraged me to, by tuning in to my body and listening to what it’s telling me: i’m hungry feed me, i’m aching rest me, i’m upset soothe me… It’s that last one that i struggle so hard with, though. I got through this last crisis and returned to my schedule, not pushing too hard, but doing my best. If i was too tired, i might skip my nighttime skincare, and i only brushed my teeth perfunctorily, rather than my full 2 minutes, because it was making me retch and triggering me. When sexual activity came up, my body went completely numb, and i heard and honoured the NO.

These are good things and i’m proud to be accomplishing them, but my physical issues are getting so big i’m having trouble hanging on to even this amount of progress. I arranged to see the doctors i need to, but i’ve a week left to wait, and i don’t know where i’m going to find what i need to hang on until then.

Last night i was short-tempered and weepy, and today i hit a wall. I’m panicking about the wait. I’m worried that i can’t hold my system together and function properly until i see my therapist and my doctors. My pain level is too high, and my compulsion to take off and walk is almost too strong to resist. I don’t want to do this anymore.

I’m trying to listen to my body, but i don’t know how. My body terrifies me, and today i’m not sure if i can bear what it wants to share with me. I’m feeling sorry for myself, i know, but goddamnit why do i have to have the mental AND the physical? Haven’t i been through enough?
I feel young and small and i’m stomping around in my head with balled up, chubby little fists, doing that pre-Kindergarten angry cry.
I feel angsty and awkward and my delicate, teenage heart cries crimson tears.
I feel emptiness gnawing inside, a yawning pit where i lay at the bottom and am slowly consumed by the ache of fear.
Any desire or inspiration i have to deal with all the brain stuff, is being steamrolled by all this motherchristing pain. It’s taken 3 1/2hrs to get this much bashed out, and my head is thumping so hard it feels like my skull might pop off.

There is something, though. Writing this has made me calmer. I had to settle down enough to gather together a few words that made sense. This isn’t dissociation either, which is what i’ve been trying to avoid. When things are this tumultuous in my thinking, and then the physical piles on, the temptation to hide in the insensate is strong. It beckons me with the safety of nothingness.

I want to stay present, so i practise mindfulness, which, lemme tell ya, ain’t a helluva lotta fun right now. There’s a whispering behind a door inside me, and it’s practically swelling in its frame with its desire to open for me. I can open that door, go through and disappear for a while. It’s not restful, because the rest of me is still conscious, and my Bits N’ Pieces use up more energy than i do. It’s not safe, because a number of them can, and ohmygod have, gotten me into some dangerous situations.

Behind that door lies nothing.

I step into a void where i stop existing, only to step back, more tired, and often with some kind of mess to clean up. Damaged relationships, sometimes property (although not for a loooong time), almost always my body. Then comes the shame and anxiety, which must be handled carefully. If i’m not careful i can push myself into another hard switch. If i don’t consciously deal with the feelings at all, a switch is likely. Switching is not what i want. I love my people and i’m grateful for their care and protection, but i’m ready, willing, and mostly able to take the reins and drive this wagon full time.

I suspect this is what the next few months are going to look like:

I can do this. It’s gonna be fine.

OMGWTFICANTDOTHETHINGBBQ!!!!

It’s okay. I can do the thing.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

**********

I held onto this over the weekend, because i wanted to make sure that posting it was what i wanted to do. I know it’s not much of anything, because i’m scattered, enough so that, i think, it’s obvious i’m not quite all here. I’ve lost my voice. Whatever it is that identifies my writing as mine has slipped a little. I’m unsettled; rudderless. I’m anxious AF.

I want to edit/rewrite/punchup the entire thing, but i think that’s the wrong way to go. Reading my other stuff and reading this, may give you some insight. This is rambly, it’s trying to say something, but it doesn’t get there. It lacks cohesion.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but i am also currently lacking cohesion.
I’m scattered, and not quite all here.

I know i’m going to get through this and be better when it’s done. I also know there will be times when i’ll doubt that and be afraid i’m going to fail. I know that sometimes the pain and fear will be so intense that i’ll want to stop.
I have learned from being in the weeds many times before, that it will be okay. I will be okay. I lived through the actual experiences, anything after that is at least bearable.

It’s like when i used to smoke marijuana and hashish. Over the years i became more and more paranoid, but i could always handle it, because i knew, based on experience, that the high would end, and the feelings of paranoia were drug-induced.

So, with that in mind i’m going to post this meandering piece of weirdness, because i think it helps illustrate how my brain works. I think it could be a bridge between moments of clarity. How do i get from panic to peace? My brain isn’t always full of pithy observations and poetic imagery. Heh. Sometimes it’s on the mouthbreather setting. I’m fumbling around in here, trying to find meaning, trying to find something solid to stand on…

I’m not having much luck folks, but i’m not overly concerned at this precise moment. I think that writing has been instrumental in getting me from where i was when i first began writing this around 60hrs ago, to here, just about to smack that “publish” button.

This is part of my process. I recognise this place; i’ve been here many times before.
I can do this.

Pithiness will follow.

Image: Convergence, Jackson Pollack

La Vie Dramatique

I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more
~ C. S. Lewis

My relationship with pain is as interesting as anyone’s, i guess. Maybe a bit more complicated?

I haven’t been in this much pain in a long while. I said it yesterday and i’ll say it again – it’s because i have to bear it myself. One reason why i splintered into smaller pieces was to cope with pain. It was to keep my thinking separate from my physical and emotional experiences of such. When i first split, i lacked the sophistication required to process what was happening to me. Hell, i’m not sure i can even now, but that’s where i endeavour to go and what i intend to find out.
I will go to the place where i feel what i felt, armed with what i know. I will attempt to have the experience of both of these things at the same time, in hopes of bringing more healing to my entire system, and more functionality to me, the primary face holder.

So this is an opportunity to prepare for it. And a sign that it’s already begun.

***** A Brief Aside *****

Listen, i know how dramatic i am right now. All things considered, i think i’m doing fairly well with regards to self-awareness, staying present, and being mindful.
I know myself, and making things all soap opera helps me deal. I was raised to downplay, deny, and forget anything bad that happened to me. Even minor stuff was met with admonitions that i was making a mountain out of a molehill and crying crocodile tears. Oh, and the ubiquitous, “You think YOU have it bad? Well… ”

Sharing my story like a tele novella is a personal acknowledgment that what i went through was, in fact, horrific. And perhaps more importantly, it’s standing up to those who silenced me and would still if they could.
I also think that, if my upbringing had been even a little bit better, i’d have made my living as an artist of some kind. I was heading down that road in spite of all the crap thrown at me, including my mother’s active sabotage. So it’s kinda who i am anyway. (I chose my blog name for reasons, cantcha see?)

If i can put a few poetic flourishes on this material, if i can turn it into art, i can live with what happened to me.
If these weird, quirky, tragic, and yes, histrionic little word pieces can enlighten, enrich, or dare i hope, assist, other humans in their own quests for health and happiness?
Then maybe i can do more of living than the surviving it part.

**********

I created Bits N’ Pieces to cope with trauma, and once i knew i’d done so, i quickly learned that dissociation could be helpful, useful, and occasionally preferable.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1995. Finding community to help me learn to live with it, showed me some who suffered so terribly they were bedridden, some dependent on pain medication, some driven to the deepest depths of depression. While i knew i was in a great deal of pain, i observed this from a distance. When i began working with multiplicity as the diagnosis for the way my brain works, i realised that i’d been dissociating from the pain.
Which was just peachy as far as i was concerned.
I always knew i had a high pain tolerance, but now i knew why.

I learned that, like most ailments, the fibro was exacerbated by stress. Fear and anxiety caused a noticeable uptick in pain and sleeplessness, but i think i simply adjusted my level of dissociation to handle it.
I dialed it up a notch or 2.

I am not doing that right now.

DJ-who-sounds-like-a-car-salesman: Hey Listeners, don’t touch that dial! We have more fatigue and achiness comin’ up after this brief message from our sponsor.

Car-salesman-who-sounds-like-a-DJ: Looking to get an upgrade? Drive off our lot in style with one of our luxury sedans!

I could get approved, but i couldn’t keep up with the payments. I may need to take a leave of absence from work, so i’ve gotta drive this one until the wheels fall off. Heh.

What i mean is, i’ve got to feel this physical pain because i’ve got to feel the psychic pain that’s coming, and it’s very possible it could take me out of life for a while. I’m not a danger to myself, i have no urges to harm nor any ideations. I just have a limited amount of energy and i may need it all.

So today i can barely move. The bone-grinding ache has crept into my wrists, my hands, up into my face, and this afternoon it moved into my lower back and the front of my thighs. My headache throbs incessantly. I want to sleep, but the anxiety, the head and body aches, plus the UTI, have all kept me from getting more than a couple of hours at a time. And there is no sleep without dreams, dreams where the pain always finds me and although i’m lucid, i don’t wake myself because, Why bother? I stay in the dream and i clean other people’s messes and i care for other people’s children. Various family members pop in and out, looking at me with contempt and condemnation and i’m drowning in shame and embarrassment. My head feels like it’s cracking open and my whole body throbs and my waterworks are freezing.

Maybe emerg again tonight, and more therapy fun tomorrow.

Whee?
(There’s a pun there.)

UTI TMI

I’m angry. It doesn’t take me long to figure these things out anymore. This time was less than half the day.
First, i want to be alone. It’s a priority, even wanting to be away from those i love and need, and who love and need me, too. It’s a not wanting to be seen kind of feeling. Don’t look at me.
Next, i’m more emotional than usual. Like, if feelings had a volume, mine could be turned down a bit right now. It’s not loud, but it’s drowning out lesser sounds at this point. Which leads me to another sign that things aren’t right: my focus.
I’m snarky. I’m complaining about things that normally wouldn’t bother me, or if they do, they’re the kind of bother that i would purposely let go of, because i can’t affect it, or it doesn’t concern me, or it’s just bloody petty. I need to economise my emotional expenditures right now, and i can’t spare the energy. Sometimes it’s good for me to let loose with a pointless and/or shallow rant about things that don’t matter, like a bleed valve. This is not one of those times. It feels wrong, this morning chirping on social media.

This is about something else, and since i don’t have any reserves, i’d better deal with it before it throws a wrench in my current plans.
So yeah – i’m pissed off.

I’m tired of being in this much physical pain, for one thing.
My fibro flared up right away when all this -whatever the fuck you wanna call this- started coming up for me. The losing voices, losing face, losing time. It wavers between enough pain i almost long for my heavy drinking, pill popping days, and so much that i wish my shoulders, neck, and arms were detachable.
I have a headache that never leaves. In the morning it’s like a band of steel across my forehead and temples, but over the course of the day it travels to the base of my skull, where it becomes so intense it hurts to turn my head in any direction.

And there’s the thing that i don’t talk about. I’ve had bladder and kidney trouble since birth, and what i went through as a child likely made everything worse. I had dozens of yeast infections as a little girl, and it made me very susceptible to them ever after. I know how to avoid them now, but i have never been able to combat the UTIs. I’ve been plagued by them ever since i can remember. I’ve had so many, in fact, that i stopped seeing a doctor for them unless they were particularly painful. I would just resist the urge to pee, and drink great quantities of fluids, until i didn’t feel it anymore. I thought i’d flushed it out. When i confessed this to my GP recently, she told me that i was at an age where doing so was damaging my kidneys, and i needed to stop ignoring it and seek immediate treatment.
Pfft, i say to myself.
So of course i get a spectacular one that i can’t ignore.

Well, i can’t ignore it for long. I could feel one starting a couple of weeks ago, but even then i was wondering if it’s ever even totally gone away. I cycle in and out of the physical symptoms of having a mild one so often and i use my dissociative skills so reflexively and unconsciously for pain and discomfort… I don’t know wtf is going on down there.
My middle son was visiting this weekend, so i was focused on being present and enjoying every second he was here. I was happy to push it into the background, but by last night i knew it was going to need handling. When i woke this morning i knew immediately i’d waited too long. I’d been discussing its presence a few days before with a friend, and she shared her experience of them as “pissing razor blades”. I told her i remembered having some that serious, but they were a long time ago.
Ha. Am i that suggestible, or is it serious?
The visible pooch in my belly, and the feeling like a gorilla is sitting on it make me think it’s real and not the nocebo effect.

I’m going to emerg to get a ‘scrip.
Tffp. I’m taking back my pfft. I hope y’all are happy now.

See this? I’m testy, even with you.
I’m not sure why pain makes me angry. I could pop-psychology it easily i’m sure, but i’m going to give it the attention it deserves. The attention i deserve. Due diligence.

I’m also mad about more than this. I caught a whiff of it on Friday, and it’s been lurking in the background, conspiring with the pain, plotting more fuckery.
I’m sure i’ll get into that later.

I’m going to now spam my social media with unicorns and puppy dogs and syrupy poetry, in hopes of balancing out my wall full of grumpitudes this morning.

Ciao.
Italian makes me feel less rumpled, or at least like i’m a whiny sack of sad with some style. Heh.

Blargh.

I do not know if i can maintain this way of coping with my pain, or for how long.

I got the Kiddo off to school, ate breakfast and tried to get to the business of the day. The ache though, it’s settled in like it’s hibernating for the winter and my body is the cave. My skin hurts and i feel the ache in the muscle all the way into my bones. So i went back to bed, to see if i could find a little sleep and maybe relief. I doze fitfully, and the ache follows me into my dreams until i hear a little doggy scratch at my door 2hrs later: Mom, we have to pee now. I get up and i have that overslept feeling; my head feels like it’s stuffed with cement chunks that are grinding against each other. Not fair, because i don’t feel any more rested than i did at 5:30 this morning.

I have had to return to hot showers. This is a difficult thing for me to do, as it’s highly triggering. The bathroom, on the whole, is the most triggery room in my house. I was attacked in bathrooms, i would get cleaned up in bathrooms, and in later years, i would try to scald the filth off of my body with water hot enough to do damage. Personal hygeine has been a problem for me on and off through the years, due to the abuse. If i didn’t go in, i didn’t get assaulted, and my unclean body was screaming out DON’T TOUCH ME!
I recognised the problem many years ago, and taking luke warm showers is part of what i do to cope with my anxiety. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do much for the pain, and so i do mindfulness type exercises while standing under water that’s as hot as i dare.

I remind myself who i am, how old i am, and that i’m not being abused anymore.
I feel my feet touching the tub.
I leave the curtain open a bit so i can see it’s my bathroom.
The door is open and the dogs are less than 5m away.

Chronic pain doesn’t leave much energy left over. My brain is in a fog, logy and sluggish. I finally remember to take a pain reliever. I stagger 2 different kinds. I don’t take too many anymore, and i don’t know if what i do take helps very much. I think it does? My head aches measurably less, but when i’m in full flare-up, it never goes away.

The pain in my face is returning. It’s one of the things that troubles me the most.
People don’t realise how much they touch their face. I do, though. I know because i hate my face being touched almost more than anything. It can trigger immediate and violent dissociation if someone touches my face. Even my own touch can be disturbing to me. I’ve worked very hard to remain present during morning and evening skin care, and the occasional makeup applications. When my face aches though, i can find myself unconsciously touching a painful area. If i catch myself stroking or rubbing my face, it can be hard to stay present and aware. I can suddenly feel disgusting and disgusted at the same time. When i feel like that i want to distance myself from my body – i don’t like the feel of it, so i check out.

So this is the absolute shit of it. I’m in pain, which dissociation could relieve, but i don’t want to do that, so i’ve got to just feel it. This is a mirror of what’s happening with my mental/emotional health and i try to find it funny, but i struggle with self-pity.

I’m not trying to be a martyr here. I’m not saying this is the way to deal with chronic pain, either. In fact, i’d strongly recommend against this. The only reason i’m doing it this way is because i have to right now. I’m not using alcohol or pills or street drugs to get away from my brain, my body, or my past any longer. I’d love to get away from the pain for a while, but abuse of alcohol only works while the intoxication is maintained. The inevitable sobriety brings greater pain for days after. Street drugs don’t generally work, and pills… Some opiates cause pancreatitis for me, and i’d rather feel the fibro pain, thank you very much.

I’m also no superhero. I don’t know how long i can continue to handle it all this way.
I’m going to try not to think about it too much. This little bitty piece of writing has taken me nearly 2 weeks to write. I bash out a few sentences and then go distract myself with something else. I don’t want to dwell because that leads to obsession which always leads to rash decisions and poor choices. I get overwhelmed and i want to stop feeling the way i do, so i grab a quick fix, which always costs more than it’s worth.

You know, the more i open up about how my brain works, and what i’m doing to manage it and have a happier and more functional life, the more i wonder if it’s even possible that anyone out there can relate. But that’s probably just the pain talking, at least i hope so. I’m going to take it as a sign that i’m tired and it’s time for me to stop this piece and go to bed.
I don’t know if it’s done yet.
I’ll ask tomorrow.

I think it is. I needed to share what i’m going through, but now i have and i’m going to move on. I’ve made the best decision i can with the resources i have available: acknowledge it to myself, share it with someone, have a moment of how shitty and unfair it is – and move on.

It’s all balance, isn’t it? I’m trying to look at just enough of the minutiae that i can tweak what isn’t quite working and have a better life – but not get obsessed, overwhelmed, and completely out of touch with the rest of the world. I’m also trying to see just enough of the big picture, so that i can maintain my focus, and see my progress as more of an evolutionary process, in other words, it’s gonna take time.

Love and Peace to You,

~H~

Pain is the Great Winnower

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,

~H~