I was afraid the first time that I shared my story. As a child in pain, all you do is dream of normal. As an adult, you either live in your body and own it, try and control it, or run away. I’ve done it all. And while I haven't stopped dreaming of a life without pain, there's a part of me that wants to. (Big exhale.)
Last night was a new "first time" - and equally as terrifying as sharing my story of chronic pain is sharing my want of a life where it is no longer the center of my universe. Sitting next to my husband in bed, I whispered, "what if I stopped fighting the pain. Would that be okay?"
I'm a strong, independent woman. Yet, making friends with pain - instead of treating it like the nonsense it is - seems like a group decision. If I choose to accept it, it might seem to others that I'm giving up. Their assumption couldn't be farther from the truth. You see, I've been given the option to give up. And I haven't.
In fact, as I pondered the teeny tiny pink freckle on my ankle late last summer - a part of me knew it was a way out. If that spot happened to be cancer, then the pain would end. My adventure to the dermatologist which proved that spot was cancer answered every question I've ever had about whether I would give up if given the option. I chose life. There isn't an ounce of quit in me even after 14 years of living with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Making friends with the pain, to me, is like finding a new freedom. As I've taught my yoga students over the years, acceptance is bliss. I don't believe we can find true happiness and earthly ease if we do not fall in love with life exactly as it is. Do we stop working toward more, better, or best? Absolutely not. But on the path from here to there, we accept what we've got.
And right now, I've got pain. Still.
Even after a decade of lifestyle changes and therapists and exercise routines and prayer. The pain still exists. Some days it's lighter of course - a slight weight in my shoulders or difficulty lifting a foot-plus-a-shoe (versus just a foot). But often pain roars. Yesterday was such a day, as I looked out at the pool three buildings away and wished I had a wheelchair to get there. It wasn't the thought of the wheelchair that created havoc in my mind, though. It was the thought that I might be accepting where I'm at.
What if I did?
In all honesty, I'm beginning to. And an incredible burden is dropped the moment that I remember, this is it (for a moment, a day, or a week). It's okay that I'm in pain. I am here - which is profoundly more important to me now. I believe that perhaps there are brighter days ahead. I'm a believer in every sense of the word, following a God who creates miracles daily! But I'm okay here. We are okay here. And you can be okay here too. The freedom I have found in (beginning to) willingly existing with limits is life-altering.
Will you try it on for size with me?
I'd love to hear if you do.