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Healing power of the ordinary
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One thing I find about all this chronic pain is that it really zaps your resources, so you are left to live your life and figure things out with only half of your equipment. An aching body affects the mind, thinking can be fussy, and pain pills don't always lead to clarity. This whole thing called life becomes heavier, like being asked to carry a 10-pound bag of potatoes with you, wherever you may go. I like potatoes, but I don't like them well enough to carry them around with me all the time.
When I am unable to clean the house, go grocery shipping and keep up my spirits, not only do I suffer but everyone around me does, also. Therefore, I do all of these things anyway - just the modified version, the light version, as it were. I, like you, have many roles to fill in life, such as wife, mother, friend and writer. I often feel I just don't have the strength to fulfill all those roles and feel so lousy, I don't even feel well enough to have guilt about it. Isn't that pitiful? Aww, poor me. We don't always get the breaks, let's face it. So what do we do? One can't climb into a hole and pull the lid over one's head. No thanks, that's a little too much like being dead. One can't turn from life's responsibilities, not completely. Life has a way of piling up.
My husband doesn't cook, well, that's not completely true. He can slap a bologna sandwich on bread together, and he can scramble eggs. He also knows how to dial a phone and can order pizza, but this woman cannot live on pizza alone. He also has a more than full-time job taking care of felons and fools at the local county jail. Most of our home life is left to me, which as all of you knows includes laundry, cooking, shopping and occasionally wiping a dog's snout. Let me share a secret with you. If my husband were able to do all of these things, he wouldn't do them to my satisfaction.
That's another thing I have discovered about myself. I'm not very good with compromise. Chronic pain thrusts compromise upon me. I don't like it. I get frustrated with too many hairballs on the floor, stinky food in the fridge and laundry that is piling up. All that junk mail has to be sorted, destroyed and gleaned from the bills. So life goes on. Since I am unwilling to go through life with a chip on my shoulder (I just don't look good with a sour puss), I figured I had to start looking for some answers...again.
Many years ago, I read an old story called Acres of Diamonds. It is the story of a young man who searches the world over to find wealth, returns home poor, in despair, only to discover one of the world's largest diamond mines in his own backyard. I began to ask myself if I was sitting on a diamond mine, metaphorically speaking, of course, in my own backyard. Were the answers I was looking for right under my sizeable nose?
I can't stand to be miserable for too long. I think it is a personality flaw of mine; therefore, I have to find the healing around me. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP - like a Geiger counter going off inside my head: search, think, seek. I ask myself, What are the healing tools on hand, close by, that I can use to feel better?
Since I have to face the ordinary, everyday life, just as you do, that's where I begin my search. No matter how lousy you or I feel, there are the basics of life. We have to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. It is desirable if we bathe, put on fresh clothes and attempt conversation with those around us. It also helps to do something constructive as a gift for the soul. It helps me to intersperse some positive action into the heart of all that self-pity. Most importantly, we have the need to love and be loved. It can be difficult to do when we are focused only on ourselves, our pain and our needs. At the time when we need love the most, we are often at our most unlovable. To love is a privilege and a necessity, as vital as the air we breathe.
To keep on track on an ordinary day, I find it helps to stick with a routine. When I deviate from my routine, I find I do stupid things, like forgetting to take my pills. I also have found it gives life structure, form and substance. This isn't easy for me because I've always prided myself on being a spontaneous kind of gal, but I have found without some structure to my life the days end up in a jumble of self-centered chaos. This makes me feel worse because I didn't accomplish a thing. I have found it helps me to write myself notes. At night, when my mind is firing at its best, but my body is too fatigued for action, things come to mind for the next day. I reach for the notepad and write them down. I've learned to turn on the bedside lamp because I have written many notes to myself in the dark that I can't decipher in the morning. For instance, I'll put a note beside the alarm clock rudely telling myself to get up at a certain time. Chores, writing ideas, gifts to buy, etc., I write them down when the ideas are hot. I want my life to have purpose and meaning. Therefore, I had to gain control. If I am not in charge of my own life, then who is?
Okay, structure is one of life's ordinary healing modalities. Another is the dreaded exercise. Since moving to the Northwest, I have discovered I am waterproof. Trips to the store, walks, all of these don't have to stop because of a little precipitation. There's something about getting out in the fresh air, the wind in my face and being around others that is stimulating and life-giving. There are ordinary forms of exercise all around us. When I apply lotion at night, I have learned not to just slap it on but to rub it in. I count to 50 as I rub it into my arms or legs. Moving those muscles keeps them alive. Waging war against the ravages of disease is a daily battle. Ordinary opportunities are all around us.
There is also beauty all around us if we choose to see it. There's something about looking at a gorgeous lavender rhodie in bloom or the Columbia River sparkling in the sun and the sound of the chuckles of my beautiful 10-month-old baby granddaughter. Is there anything more life-giving than a 3-year-old wearing his Bob the Builder tool belt? He marches around the house fixin' every nail he sees with a plastic hammer. He's already discovered the joy in fixin' something.
Beauty and joy, they aren't so far apart, are they? They both bubble up inside the heart of us and make the day a pleasure instead of a drudge. Healing power is all around us if only we open our eyes and hearts to see it.
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