|Photo Credit: Morguefile by imelenchon|
I have fibromyalgia. Because I don't write about it a lot, I think that I have some readers who don't know this. I have fibromyalgia and chronic migraines and TMJ, and this week, it was bad—all of it, at once. If you have people in your life who manage chronic illness, you may want to know that the reason they look like they're doing so well is because you normally don't see them when they are not doing so well. We tend to stay in, and we tend not to want to broadcast our pain into the public world because what we get back when we do doesn't always make us feel better, even though we are also dying for people to know what it feels like, in some weird, childlike way.
I wrote this because I decided that I was going to go crazy if I didn't, but I am sharing it, because someone else may feel like they are going to go crazy because no one feels the way they do. If you know someone like that, share this with them. They may feel better, if only because they are doing better than this. And, so you don't worry, even I am doing better than this. I am doing awesome. I am a great mother and I am still continuing to get up and care for kids and, in fact, educate them, and I have been nice twenty times for each time I haven't been. But this is how it feels to be in so much pain that you have to to do something and to find that there is nothing to do, and this is what it feels like to receive love inside of that space—at least for me. So, please use this piece to find compassion for yourselves—because we can all relate, on some level, to a pain too large to bear—and for others you come across in life who may behave like wolverines with their leg in a trap when you are just trying to be nice to them.
It took a while to notice that the pain had become a balloon inside which all the air was trapped and everything was expanded, and nothing could get out. For five days, it had been there, getting louder, and I had been enduring, and doing nice things, and now there was no endurance for it left. Now I was furious. I wanted to smash the breadth of it against something hard and watch it shatter, yelling “How do you like that now?” but there was nothing to shatter but my own plates and cups and ornaments and relationships. I wanted to scratch it and watch it bleed, but it didn’t have a body. It just had me, and after all these years, I am tired of watching myself bleed. I gnashed my teeth at it, and—mirror-like, it gnashed back.
As all this went on, my husband sat in the living room relaxing and my children watched something on an iPad that I’d told them they couldn’t be on until all the homework was done. And cups and dishes and coats and papers and shoes and cat hair and sounds were left all over the house, hanging onto and nullifying the neatness I can remember having won.
So, I got up to clean dishes, because if I didn’t I was going to have to smash them, and my husband said, “I can do that later, hon.” And I ignored him because the cups and the dishes and the coats and the papers and the shoes and cat hair and sounds were there now, not later, and later never fucking comes anyway. And then I decided that I wanted to smash my relaxing, not-helping family and watch them break against the wall like pieces of china just so that they would be silent and stop ruining everything. But I could remember having loved them a great deal and having hated myself for hurting their feelings before. And I felt sorry and ashamed and beaten and still-destructive all at the same time.
So, after the dishes were loaded, instead of smashing my family, I went to my bedroom and tried to focus all of my concentration into the part of me that could be still. I became a rock on an expanse of sand, just lying there on my bedspread, with no muscle pain tearing my body apart, and no jaw pain ripping open my skull, and no headache that bored into the thinking part of my flesh. I am just a rock, I thought. And a rock feels no pain…And my husband came and went like a timid mouse, bringing pills and putting up with me and suffering silently and distancing himself emotionally for his own protection but being good, and I just lay there and I just wanted someone—anyone, but especially him, to break the balloon and come in and get me or at least squeeze into that space and nestle beside me, for just a minute, so I didn’t feel so alone.
Instead, though, everyone stayed away and ignored me or did their best and always remembered that the balloon in question is where an angry, volatile, hurting person lives. And, instead, I went to sleep on waves of physical agony and despair and woke up still hurting and wanting to smash things.
But I also remembered that I didn’t want to spend the day in the balloon alone again, where the pain bounced off the latex walls in echoes and hit me again as it came back, so I sat down and wrote this, and then I gave it to my husband, who was going somewhere, and asked him, “Do you have time to read this now?” and he did.
And then, as his arms reached around me and the softness of his always-warmer caramel flesh pressed up against mine, all the pain still ripped through my body, but the aloneness slipped out like air through a tiny hole made by a pin in the balloon. And, because of this, I think I can get up and go take a shower now and, because of this, I think that I can get through at least one more hour. And because of this, I think that the Universe might love me, too. And I am so glad, because it is when I am most unlovable, when I am fighting and spitting and raging and sobbing inside, that I need this assurance the most.
Sometimes, we all need to have access to that love we don't deserve.