My day consists of almost constant positive self talk. In lieu of pain medicine that leaves me groggy or simply doing nothing with my time, which leaves me sad, I manage my pain with a sort of steady meditation, although it’s not always so zen.
I wake up in the morning after a night of tossing and turning and my back and shoulders hurt. They’re not tired, not sore, they’re in pain. My neck pulses gently, I can feel the beat echo behind my right eyebrow, in the tops of my cheeks, and I feel drool pooling on the right side of my mouth where my facial nerve is slowly healing (I hope). I whisper to myself in my mind, “you’re okay.” I gently roll my shoulders back, grab my daily medicine for pain, the one that’s supposed to work over time, then I reach for the medicine for my stomach to counteract the effects of the first drug slowly beginning to dissolve on my tongue. My movements are robotic, both careful and measured to keep from causing more pain, but ripe with thoughtlessness, as most routines become.
“You can do this,” I think to myself. I leave the majority of my chores to do in the mornings since my fatigue is just too severe by night. As I watch the dogs chase squirrels in our little yard I move about the kitchen. I am already imploring myself not to go back to bed, the warmth of my loving partner begs me to return, to sink beneath the sheets and hope the pulsing in my neck and head give me respite in sleep. “No it won’t help the pain, sleep never helps the pain,” I tell myself, annoyed that it takes this much work just to want to stay awake.
I get myself to go on a run. “You are capable of this,” I hear in my mind. I remember my pain therapy, thank your body for how far it’s gotten you, keep the habits that help, honor the ones that helped you get here but if they no longer serve you, choose to let them go. “Ok,” says that whisper in my mind, “thanks rickety body, we’re still alive today…”
The beginning of the run hurts. I ignore myself thinking you can fight through. It is only half way through the run, when the pain is building beyond my threshold of tolerance, that I realize I am not fighting my body. “I’m with you” I quietly whisper. This time the sound barely escapes my lips but I am talking to myself. “Allow the pain to exist, don’t think about it,” is the echo in my head. “I’m with you,” I whisper again. I am with my body. I do not fight against it, I work with it. “We are healing,” I think. “We can heal.. and I. Am. With. You.” By the end of the run the pain is at it’s worst, I breathe in a quiet rhthym, click my playlist over to the one marked “pain” and let familiar voices sing to me as I just hear my.mind telling me to “allow, allow, allow.” Living, let alone running, with chronic pain is an inexact science. I feel myself fighting between words of anger and rage at the mere fact I ever had a brain tumor at all, and the gratitude and acceptance of someone who lived. I vacillate between fear of my moms cancer diagnosis, anger that my runs are solo, because my hurt dogs can’t run anymore, and a quiet acknowledgement of all we are blessed with. I talk to myself in my head, negotiating the pain and trying, above all, to keep momentum, to keep moving.
I talk to myself like this all day. I implore myself to keep going, to keep trying, to keep the pain at bay. Sometimes I respond to the voice with respect and care, knowing my mind and body don’t want to be at odds. Other times I am tired, too angry at recent events and the mundane drudgery of every day life that I tell myself to fuck off. Let me be mad, or pissed, let me feel the pain, let me spiral down. Or other times I get busy, the mental energy of my work or family negating my ability to constantly prop myself up with words of thoughtful and mindful encouragement. Those are the times I feel the highest highs and the lowest lows. So I return back to the controlled and mindful space of self talk. Telling myself all day, “you’re okay, and I, I am with you.”
Its peculiar, maybe, to tell yourself that you are with yourself, of course I’m always here, in one body, one mind. But I’m not always present with my self, my pain, my hope, my desire, my fear. All this self talk, the whispers of camaraderie between mind and body, are just efforts to be present in my own body, my own space, and my own life. I suppose I just want to be seen, and in the moments when I feel my mind and body come into sync, find a rhythm all their own, I actually see myself. I see who I was, and who I am, and even, on the best days, who I might become. We all want to be seen, to live in the light and loom large in our glory, and it’s hardest on the days where we can’t even see ourselves. So I try not to get too busy to remember to be mindful. I walk through my days knowing that these invisible aches are only part of the story, and all I have to do to get through is love myself.
May we all live in the light today, present in our bodies and at peace in our minds. (How’s that for some zen!)
Peace and love,