“Storms make the oak grow deeper roots”
– George Herbert (1593-1633)
These past couple weeks, I’ve had a string of days where I have been completely immobilized with all-over body pain and heavy fatigue, my body forcing me down against my will.
I’m still learning to listen to it, to let go, to honour its needs and its (sometimes frustrating) wisdom.
My anxiety, my stubborn streak, my stories that tell me to “push through it!”, hiss and claw at the reality of chronic pain.
The pain is teaching me to slow down, to unlearn these stories and habits, to find the soft places within me, to let go, to start to heal.
I’m officially off work on sick-leave and have been referred to a Rheumatologist who specializes in fibromyalgia.
Last week, the pain in my hips was so bad, so cramped, that I could hardly walk. I went for x-rays and an ultrasound, and when the technician glided the monitor over my hips, I clenched and cried out in pain.
A simple touch had me fighting back tears. And when the terrible ordeal was over, the tears poured out – scared, sore, angry, little girl holding herself with clenched jaw and wet cheeks in the parking lot. Vulnerability at its finest.
I let my fears and my negative emotions take over. Upset, anger, rage, loneliness, frustration, grief, hopelessness, powerlessness. It was necessary.
All of our emotions are so important. They all tell us something about ourselves, they all help us move through our experiences. As they move through our minds and our bodies, they dissipate eventually. We just need to sit with them, ease into them, let them flow through us.
The next day I woke up feeling more loose, more hopeful, holding more desire for life in all its beauty and challenges. There was lightness.
Every day is a new experience, a new set of emotions, new sensations, new limitations, new expansions, new fears, and new hopes. It ossilates back and forth, like a fan in the middle of the summer heat.
Chronic pain slowly erodes energy and strength. It is easy to sit far too long with difficult feelings, to the point of listlessness and emotional numbness. Sometimes the fan gets stuck in one place, one setting. Sometimes our energies get blocked, our emotions stop flowing and get trapped.
To get to the more ‘palatable’, nourishing emotions, we sometimes have to fight for them, to create shifts, to make changes, to make movements (no matter how small), to ask for help.
Here are some of my current “Chronic Pain Sucks but Life is Still Pretty Fucking Awesome!” healing tools to get things flowing:
- Meditation – (breathe in, breathe out, pay attention to your breath, place your hand over your heart, repeat a short mantra or single word such as “love” or “soften“, let sensations and thoughts flow through you, noticing them and letting them go, like leaves floating down a river…)
- Gentle Stretching/Yoga – (child’s pose is the most restorative and soothing position for me. When I’m in a lot of pain and it hurts too much to move, I slowly ease into this pose and sink into it for as long as possible)
- A good vibrator and great orgasms! (the best, most intimate self-care there is, to get things literally flowing! I think it’s even more important to spend time loving your own body when it’s been in pain, since it is too easy to begin to resent and hate it. Know that your body is beautiful and sexy, no matter what.)
- Not hiding – (reaching out to people, sharing your story and your experiences, knowing that others love and support you. Accepting and appreciating this truth. Basking in the flow of love <3)
- Sitting outside in nature – (digging in the dirt, barefeet on grass, listening to the water flow and lap at the rocks on the shore. Nature is true connection and a source of incredible healing)
- Listening to old mix cds – (or any music that stirs up happiness and gets your energies moving)
- Reading other people’s beautiful healing stories and current struggles (Making connections. Knowing that you’re not alone.)
- Eating nourishing meals (Bonus: when someone else makes it for you because you’re too fatigued)
- Reading books! – I’ve been reading a lot about healing and beauty and the power inside all of us. (i.e. Yoga For Anxiety, Glad No Matter What, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart)
- Spending time with an adorable pup that follows me around every room in the house. Animals are healing. Find one! Even if you have to borrow a friend’s! There’s an Alpaca farm on the way to my doctor’s office. Every time I drive by, I get ridiculously excited and yell “ALPACAS!!” out the window, with the biggest grin on my face. Instant happy! The other day when my mum drove me to one of my appointments, she stopped at the side of the road in front of the fence so we could sit and watch the alpacas chill out in the grass. We were both smiling hugely and giggling like children. What’s your “instant happy” animal?
Where do you find strength in difficult times?
How do you process heavy emotions?
What connects you to your peace, your happiness?