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Break Out of Your Prison of Pain

 

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“One of the marvels of the world is seeing the sight of a soul sitting in a prison with the key in his hand.”

Rumi

I am tired of being afraid.  I am tired of living inside my box of fear when I do hold the key to my personal happiness.  For fifteen years I spent my life being afraid of physical pain and as many of you know the fear of pain is worse than the pain itself.  At times I am still filled with fear of pain but it no longer controls my life.  However, I am way too often stuck in my own box of fear that I forget to breathe and be calm and happy.  2016 was not an easy year for me.  However, I did learn a lot about myself and know the exact things I personally want to change in order for me to live the happiest life I can in the new year.

I am tired of being afraid of the past, the present and most of all the future.  I want to break free of this box of fear and live my life to the fullest.  I am tired of being fearful to express my feelings, emotions, and thoughts because of what someone will think or say.  No one has control over my happiness, my choices, or my life except myself.  I hold the key and I do find myself in my own tiny prison with that exact key in my hand too often.  I believe we all do in some way, shape or form.  What are you afraid of?  What prison are you living in that you want to break out of?

The prison I find myself in at times is very difficult to escape from as all of our personal prisons are.  We live in a world of fear but we can break free of our personal fears.  How?  I’m working on that.  I’m working on myself and I want to be the best version of me that I can be.  Happiness is an inside job that no person, place, or object can bring you.  Our thoughts determine our lives and I am sad to admit that many of my personal thoughts are derived from fear.  I am not taking away the credit I deserve and all of you deserve for the invisible battles we have each been given and fight every day.  We are all doing the best we can but maybe at times we are trying too hard.  I am extremely tired of overthinking every little thing.  Deep down I know that my fears are worse that what I am actually afraid of.  My fear of anxiety is worse than my anxiety itself just as my old fears of pain were worse than the pain itself.

I do not expect to be happy all the time nor do I expect everything to turn out exactly how I want and/or plan.  However, I do know that being afraid of things not working out how I dream or desire is not going to change the outcome.  I cognitively know all of these things but I am now ready to truly work on these thoughts that cause me added pain and anxiety.  I believe that fear is holding me back from my deepest dreams and desires and as I said in my first sentence: I am tired of being afraid.

How can you break free of your personal prison in this upcoming year.  Break out of your prison for you not for anyone else.  We are never too old to stop learning or growing.   I know many of you feel stuck.  Most of you feel stuck due to pain and I understand that feeling more than anyone.  What would your life look like if you stopped being afraid?  I do not have all the answers but I will be sharing with all of you what works in my new year and what does not work.  I truly want to find my personal peace and happiness without the constant ups and downs that come with life, chronic pain, and anxiety.  I know I can do it.  I know we all can.  You hold your key to your life.  Only you know how to open the lock.

 

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Your Cracks and Scars are What Heal You

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“It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgements about them, their present and their past but you would be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides.  What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight.  And more often than not, its lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the soul.”

Unknown

I am a person filled with cracks and scars that do go all the way to my soul.  For a good part of my life I allowed these cracks and scars to harden me and become a person I did not love or even enjoy being around.  Self hate is truly the most powerful hate there is because it can cause a person to act out in hate towards others when really the only person he or she is unhappy with is themselves and/or their life circumstances.  I am still filled with cracks and scars that are not visible to the outside world however I no longer hate myself.  I can be excruciatingly hard on myself and perfectionism can get the best of me but I do not hate who I am.  I am filled with more self love now than I have had in all my thirty five years on the planet.  I no longer look at my cracks and scars as my enemy but as the building blocks that are creating my present and future.  Life is ten percent of what happens to us and ninety percent of how we respond to it.

This year has been jam packed with ups and downs.  I have had the highest highs and the lowest lows.  I have had miracles arise and devastations arise.  Ten years ago I would pity myself without welcoming pity from others.  I would have allowed the bad things that have occurred to define my identity.  Now, I try and find the silver lining.  I try and find the lesson behind each great thing that happens and each difficult thing that happens.  There are many things that have happened to me to bring me to the place within myself where I reside now: chronic pain, losses, mistakes, and my daughter Kayci.  I have faith in myself and my future because of my cracks and scars.  Look at that little four year old girl above who is just about to see Santa Clause and is literally holding in her built up excitement.  I am the lucky person that she calls Mommy.  She believes in magic and she helps me believe in magic because in my eyes she is magic herself.  One of my biggest losses happened in 2010 when I lost our son at about nine weeks gestational age.  Had that little angel not left us, I would not know or have this miracle daughter.

I had my bike accident in my young teens and have had chronic pain since.  For so many years all I thought about was how to get rid of my pain.  I not only thought about it but pain consumed my life, the life of my family, and a multitude of doctors and specialists who could not for the life of them find a cure to my invisible illness.  A day did not go by in which I did not think about a life without pain.  I am thirty five now and still have chronic pain and had you told me fifteen years ago I would be living with chronic pain naturally and having a fulfilled life despite pain, I would have either laughed in your face or cried in your face.  But, here I am living a life where pain does not dictate my life.  I have written and said this many times but it is just so relevant and true to all our stories: “If there is something that you do not go a day without thinking about or wishing for than you will find a way to achieve whatever it is you wish for.”  I never found a cure to chronic pain but my life took me on a different path where I learned to live with it and be happy despite pain.  In many ways my wish that I did not go one single hour without thinking about did come true just not in the way I had expected it to.  As you all know, I do not go a day without thinking about having another child and extending our family. Clearly it is not happening how I had wished and hoped for it to happen but it will happen because if nothing else chronic pain taught me that you never give up on something you do not go a day without thinking about.   In the meantime I am going to do everything in my personal power to bring me closer to my dream while still enjoying and being grateful for what I do have in this time and place.

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Grief and Loss

e41704c961ed761a0a5bf1e67a055189“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing.  Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming.  All we can do is learn to swim.”

Vicki Harrison

I am a survivor of  brain surgery and live with chronic pain every day of my life.  If you follow my story you know that I manage pain naturally and pain does not control my life or happiness as it once did fifteen years ago.  I have not allowed chronic pain to take away my dreams and continue to fight for those who are struggling with this terrifying invisible illness we call chronic pain.  If you have chronic pain or any invisible illness you are well aware that the last thing a person wants from others is pity.  One of my favorite quotes is: “I do not want you to save me.  I want you to stand by me as I save myself.”  With that said, I am going to share with you a loss that occurred this week that has caused a tsunami of emotions that can be just as painful as physical pain, if not more so at times.  For ten years I believed that chronic pain took away my biggest dream in the entire world, to have a family and be a mother.  Ever since I was a young girl my biggest dream was to be a mom.  Yes, I knew even as a child that I wanted to help people and I always loved writing but the one thing I knew I could not ever bear was a life without children.  For ten years I drowned in the depths and sorrows of chronic pain which came close to killing me.  I never believed I would be where I am now: I have a degree in social work, I am a writer, I am living a healthy life despite chronic pain but the most magical thing that has happened is having my daughter, Kayci.  I am a better mother and person than I would have had I not fallen off of my bike had brain surgery and subsequent chronic pain.  I was recently pregnant and was as happy as I had been when my daughter Kayci came into this world.  I spent weeks dealing with morning sickness and all the fun ailments that come with pregnancy but none of that mattered to me because I was pregnant!  Finally!!!  At about ten weeks or so, I was so confident my pregnancy was healthy and everything was on track that I announced my miracle to the world.  Last week I went for my final appointment with my fertility specialist as I was about to enter my second trimester and the ultrasound technician was unable to find my baby’s heartbeat.  I lost it.  I screamed: “Find it! Find it!  Please God no!!!!!”   I was shaking and sweating and in a state of shock I do not ever remember being in.  The following morning I had a D&E and I spent the following two days in bed crying, watching mindless television, and just staring at the walls.  I felt empty and kept seeing the picture of our baby on the ultrasound screen.  I connected to this baby and I believe only a woman can understand how strong a love can be for someone they have never met.  One day there are two heart beats inside of you and then without warning or preparation one of those heartbeats is gone.  For a day or so you wish the heartbeat that had stopped was your own because in a way it has.

It is crazy how common miscarriages are and I am sure most of you reading this have either faced your own loss or know someone who has.  However, just because something is ‘normal’ or ‘common’ does not make the pain any less.  Cancer is very common but that does not change the immense pain this terrible disease causes.  We are all human and you are allowed to grieve in whatever way you need to in order to heal yourself.  I am not sharing what has recently occurred in my life to bring people down or receive any comments of pity or sorrow.  Quite the contrary, I am sharing what I have just faced in order to help those who are going through something similar.  I am also sharing this story which is not what I usually write about to show how strong each and every one of us are.

I had a D & E February 2nd, 2010 and lost a son.  I did not get out of bed for about two weeks and watched more re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210 than I care to remember.  I once again believed my dream of having children was shattered and my life began to unravel and I went back to a life of pain, both physical and emotional.  It took me a long time to snap out of this grief.  My daughter was born February 2nd, 2011: a year/hour to the date and time we lost our son.  If I had not had that loss in 2010, I would not have the most amazing, beautiful, funny, angelic daughter than I am now blessed with.  I know her older brother was watching out for her and he is one of our angels.  So, am I going to go into catastrophic mode and begin believing I will never have another child: NO.  Do not get me wrong, I am grieving.  It has only been six days and although each day gets somewhat easier, I would be lying if I said I did not cry multiple times during the day.  Am I cheerful, happy, enthusiastic Jessica?  No.  I am doing the best that I can and no hope has been lost that the Universe has a plan and I have zero doubt that I will have another child.  I have learned exactly what people who are going through the loss of a baby do not want to hear and I feel it is important to share for those of you who know someone who is facing this very difficult, emotional loss.  Here are the five things that stand out to me the most as I have faced this loss.

1. Maybe it is enough just to have one child.

2. It was not in God’s plans.  You don’t need to be sad, clearly this just was not meant to be.

3. You do not have to try again to have another child.  Why put yourself through that?

4. I thought you were just happy? What happened?  You are crying again.

5. I feel so bad for you!  You worked so hard for this.  Are they sure?

No, I am not giving up on my dream to have another child and that does not take away the immense love I have for my daughter.  Chronic pain taught me that if you cannot go a day without thinking about something you desire, you have the power to make that something come true.  This is a difficult time but this hardship does not define me or my strength.  I cry in waves, I laugh in waves, I dream in waves, I get angry in waves, but the one feeling that has no waves is my strength and belief.  My strength and belief that I will bring another child into this world is at bay.  I am not worried about having another child because I will and long down the road will look at this just as I look at the loss I faced in 2010.  However, people are allowed to grieve in their own way for their own loss, their own invisible illness, and their own personal life.  You have no obligation to justify your choices for yourself, your family or your life and no one should ever make you feel as if you have to justify your dreams and choices.  This is your life.  This is your pain.  This is your hope.  This is your power.  Just as with chronic pain, the three most important words you can ever say to someone who is hurting is: “I believe you” or “I believe in you.”

Even miracles take time

-Fairy Godmother

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Fear of Abandonment, Loss

Smiling Behind Hidden Pain

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“When people try to minimize your pain, they are doing you a disservice.  And when you minimize your own pain, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Don’t do that.  The truth is, it huts because it mattered.  And that is a good thing to acknowledge to yourself.  But that doesn’t mean that it won’t end, that it won’t get better.  Because it will.”

John Green

I look happy in the above picture, my daughter (Kayci)  just looks confused. Why do we always smile when taking a picture?  Why do we not show who and how we are really feeling inside because showing our true feelings is scary or embarrassing?  I guess this is true for me, especially yesterday: a day of loss.  My posts are very uplifting and hopefully helpful and inspiring but I am not going to fake a smile on for this post because I have been real from the start of my writings and I do not want to ever not tell you the truth or smile for your camera when inside I’m sad.  We all have bad days and I once believed a bad day meant a bad life.  However, this is not true and I am thankful for my inner wisdom and knowledge that knows everything changes and although I am sad and feel loss, everything always comes together and it appears in my life things do happen for a reason.  We said goodbye to my Jetta yesterday: ridiculous right? It is just a car but it was more than that for me.  I am not a materialistic person, I don’t believe anyone with chronic pain is and clearly the “blue bomber” had run its course: been driving that car for ten years.  I wrote this before but the day I got this car in Denver, Colorado was one of the happiest days of my life and had little to do with the car.  I was proud.  I was twenty three  and had graduated college at the top of my class and was managing chronic pain naturally.   I did it.  I worked my ass off to learn how to manage pain naturally.  I took on a full-time job as a student studying social work and a full-time job of managing pain without treatment or medications.  My La La (grandmother) my dad and myself went to the Volkswagen dealership close to my school and hours later I had a diploma, a brand new car that I knew I deserved, and life.  I smiled for every picture taken at graduation and each smile was more real than the next.  That car was a symbol to me that I could do anything despite chronic pain and I have.

Since I was a young girl I have had a fear of abandonment, this fear did not come from my bike accident, however losing so much due to chronic pain never helped me with this fear.  No matter how bad things got, I had my little blue Jetta that was the one thing that was just for me.  This car was my safety net.  No matter who left me, or who passed, or who hurt me I always had this silly car with only one hub cap to run to.  It is so ridiculous right?  I mean it is just a car and my word it was not pretty to the outside world after ten years of wear and tear and that accident on Sunday did not help her one bit but she was the one thing that I knew was mine and no one could take from me and I have so many memories from that car.  The blue Jetta was kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit: no one can understand this bond or loss with an inadimint object unless this object is beyond real to the person.  Saying goodbye to my car and emptying it out brought up a lot of emotions and wow my day just continued to be crap as the hours went on.  I was/am sad.  I feel as if I lost more than my car yesterday and the emotions that are coming up are emotions I need to deal with and work on: not push down and pretend I am fine.  Because I’m not.  I have a lot to be grateful for and I will have another car, hopefully soon.  We will have more children and at some point this year I was going to have to say goodbye to my safety net.  I just wasn’t ready yet.  However, for some reason the Universe believes I am.  You truly do think too highly of me at times: just saying.

Things come up in our lives and at the time we do not know why but in time I will know.  I am allowed to feel the way I feel just as you are all allowed to feel your feelings whether or not anyone understands.  I lost more than a car yesterday but in time I will not need an object for a safety net: I will only need my heart and soul.

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inner child

Healing Your Past

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“Your inner child is in control of your life.  Until you re-parent it and your inner child heals, only then you will be an adult and take charge of your life.”

We so often to neglect looking back at our childhoods because the past is in the past and most of our lives are so busy and at times difficult that we just do not have the time to think about our childhood.  I am most certain none of us had a perfect childhood and what does perfect mean anyways?  Any wound, scar, fear, or grief you encountered during your formative years follows you into the present tense and if we do not heal these wounds we will carry them around forever and subconsciously make choices and feel “pain” because we never did heal.  I have a difficult time writing about the people I love which includes both my parents because they are both amazing people and I never want anyone to feel I am putting them down or take my journey with chronic pain too personally as some people in my world (and rightfully so, it took me years to be able to be brutally honest about chronic pain much less write about my life for the entire world to see.)  However, in order to help myself and my readers to understand what the hell I am talking about, I have to give an example from my personal childhood without going into details.  My parents had me at a very young age and I was a definite “surprise.”  Now that I have had a couple of miscarriages and see that it is actually not easy to get pregnant if trying: “surprises are the best. For my parents, I was the best surprise just as Kayci was the best surprise for myself and family.  While we are on the topic: “Hey Universe….surprise me!”  Ok, back to my childhood.  I went through difficult times in which I felt abandoned.  Some of my memories are so vivid it has always been difficult to talk about much less try and heal.  To be quite honest, I have had no clue how to heal the wounds from my childhood.  I totally agree with the above quote, however I like many of us need to know how to do something such as healing my past and the pain I felt as a child.  The feelings of abandonment have carried me through my entire life without even realizing it.  After my bike accident, chronic pain took over and I never thought of anything but pain.  However, sadly for all of us with an invisible illness we develop a fear of abandonment so that brain surgery really did not help with my childhood fears and wounds.

I have grown up a lot and the adult Jessica is wise, empathetic, following her dreams, and genuinely a good person.  Little Jessica comes out at times when I am afraid or when I feel hurt and I become lost in tears and grief and that huge fear of abandonment takes over me and I just cry alone.  Now, that I am growing up in a different way because once I began managing chronic pain naturally, I truly did grow up.  However, I am now at a point that I am wiser than I was this time last year.  I can see past my pain and see the pain in others even when I am angry or hurt.  I am working hard at non resistance, and non attachment but it can be quite difficult.  It is now time to begin healing my inner child so that I let go of the pain that subconsciously holds me down and that little Jessica comes out and she does need me.  I started reading last night about how to heal your inner child because I truly do not know how.   Here are just some tips I researched quickly that I found to make some sense.

1. Self Awareness: We need to truly figure out our needs, and wants.  What is holding you back from your childhood that was toxic?  Clearly for me: abandonment and fear.

2. See where you are repeating emotional cycles in your life and what from you childhood is causing you to do so.  For example so many women (this is not my situation at all, just a popular one) had a parent who was an alcoholic.  Because that is all they are used to, they end up dating men that enjoy drinking and so many times end up with someone who is most like their father.  Or chaos.  If you had a childhood that was full of chaos, that is your norm so you create chaos subconsciously in your adult life because you know no better.  Locate the original origin of your pain.

3.  Grieve loss or the original wound from your childhood such as lack of attention, affection, love or feeling of abandonment.  Until these feelings or wounds are healed, it is extremely difficult of find the peace we all deserve as adults.

4. Talk to someone you trust: see a therapist, email me, write it all out if you must as hard as may be.  Get that crap out of you, it is holding you back.

5. Re-parent yourself.  Subconsciously and consciously we are always re-thinking negative core beliefs about ourselves and our fears from our past carry us into our present moment.

6.  Clear away resentment: Create your story.

Louise Hay is a huge believer in healing your inner child.  I always preach to practice some form of meditation.  If you would like to kill two birds with one stone go on Amazon and order a Meditation CD by Louise Hay focusing on healing your inner child.  She has made tons, trust me I have them.

“We are all victims of victims and everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.”

Louise Hay

 

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Trust The Process

“We often want it so badly that we ruin it before it begins: over-thinking, fantasizing, imagining, expecting, worrying, doubting.  Just let it naturally evolve.”

 

What is it that you want so much at this present time that seems to be an impossibility?  Someone you love? More stability? A child? Peace? Alchemy? Chronic pain relief? All of the above?

Most of my readers are definitely looking at the last choice and who the hell can blame you?  Even I would love total relief from chronic pain forever but I am at peace with that not happening and much happier than I was when I was forcing myself and the Universe to take my chronic pain away.  Over-thinking, Expecting, Worrying, and Doubting only increased my pain until one day I had to just let go.  Letting go of that control was not my idea, in fact it was the last thing I wanted to do but I did it.  I never wanted to accept a life with chronic pain but once I started doing things that were healthy for me in general and stopped focusing on pain, the less I noticed the pain.  It took every ounce of effort and strength I had in me and I had to practice a natural pain management lifestyle for close to a year before I started seeing any results but I’ll never regret the decision to let go.  That does not mean I just sat around and let things happen on their own quite the opposite but I did let go of the primary focus of a cure and that was when my life truly began.

We are a world of immediate gratification.  When we want something, we want it now!  Most of us do not just allow things to naturally evolve.  There are many things in my life I still forget to just let naturally evolve and all that does is cause me stress, anxiety, and higher pain levels.  I know it is a very cliché thing to say but everything does end up working out if we let go of wanting control.  There have been so many times in my life that I thought without this or that I will never be happy.  This is just not true.  Awful things do happen in our lives, they just do and there is nothing we can do about the things we cannot control.  Relationships end, people pass away, some of us (many) lose our jobs, people leave, we fall off bicycles and end up having brain surgery that will result in a life with chronic pain: I could write a novel on the bad shit that can happen, but that would be the opposite tone of the post I am sharing.  I remember when I was young and my “first love” broke up with me.  I thought I was going to die.  I just laid on our living room couch for days crying and having my closest friends and dad spoon feed me soup because I was too heartbroken to eat.  I was seventeen, we didn’t have cell phones and to connect to the internet you would have to turn your land lines off and wait about five minutes to connect to this insane thing called the “internet” and “AOL.” I am very happy about this because God knows how many times “Teenager Jessica” would have been texting and emailing the boy that left me.  I remember my dad telling me that everything would be okay and I just needed to let go and give it time.  Did I listen to him?  I was seventeen and an insecure girl so no, but I do remember his words.  He has maybe had to repeat that sentence to me one hundred times since but I believe it has sunk in: for the most part.  No offense to my first love but it is a very good thing we broke up, a very good thing!

I had a miscarriage that resulted in a D&C on February 2nd, 2011, he was going to my first born or so I thought.  I will never forget the day the D&C procedure happened.  I can honestly say it was one of the hardest days of my life.  Once again, I thought my life was over and I never thought I would be happy or have kids or a family even.  My world fell apart with that one ultrasound where the technician could not find the fetus.  I was so determined they were wrong I went to a different OBGYN to make sure.  After about a week of watching re runs of Beverly Hills 90210 and eating everything in sight I decided to let go and trust the process.  My daughter (whom if you follow my blog know is the light of my life) was born February 2nd, 2012: one year to the day we lost what was going to be our son.  Coincidence?  Probably.  However, I chose to believe divine intervention was in place and knew I was not in a good place to be a mother and my daughter’s brother wanted her to have the greatest life I could give her. It may sound like an awful thing to say but I am okay with our miscarriage.  If I had not miscarried I would not have my amazing daughter who honestly seems too good to be true at times.  Talk about true love!

 

I am getting better at trusting the process of life and try to not look too far into the future when bad things happen or flare ups occur because I have been taught by the world time and time again that eventually everything does work out, maybe not how we planned and hardly ever how we expected but they just do.  I know so many of my readers are truly struggling in their journey with chronic pain and all I ask is that you do not give up on yourself and try to just let go a little and have a thread of trust that things will get better.  I am living, breathing proof.  Often times the worst things that happen to us set us up for the best things in the future: #truth.

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Take Care of YOU first!

“Sometimes I shut down and don’t talk to anyone for days. It’s nothing personal.”

There is an enormous difference between isolation and just shutting down. Isolating one’s self is one of the most common things people do who are battling chronic pain or any invisible illness. I did it for years. I hated being around people because I was always thinking about pain and hated being such a downer to my friends happiness. I was also insanely jealous of the people around me because they seemed genuinely happy and I hated that I was in a room with people who only needed Advil for cramps or a headache. I wanted to scream: “OH MY GOD! I wish that was my problem. I am in physical pain every single day of my life and taking an Advil would be like eating a tic tac when I have not eaten all day and am starving for real food.” I isolated myself all the time. I still remember thinking: what is worse being alone and in pain or being around people but feeling totally alone? Clearly, isolation is never a good thing for long periods of time but I one hundred percent understand why people isolate themselves during their darkest hours of chronic pain.

However, there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. When I was first learning how to manage chronic pain naturally, I had to take time away from everyone in order to focus on my health and happiness. I remember writing an email or maybe was still during the pen and paper ages, either way I wrote to many of my friends as to why I needed alone time. The beginning stages of accepting and managing chronic pain naturally is a full time job. I am not kidding. I had a planner for each day which included every tool I would need to utilize in my day to day life to manage pain naturally. I even included stretching for the first fifteen minutes of my day into my schedule. I followed it deliberately and had to shut everyone out. Have I lost friends because of chronic pain: Hell yes! Does it bother me anymore: NOPE. I do not mean for that to sound cruel but I had to put myself first or I would have never been able to learn how to manage chronic pain naturally in the real world.

Even now, there are days that can go by that I truly have to just shut the outside world out (excluding my two year old, clearly.) Sometimes I fall off track with my chronic pain management and forget to meditate or practice many of the tools I need to survive a happy life. Sometimes, I just need time to be alone because I too go through rough times. Last week is a perfect example. I shut the world out for a good four days because I was very down and just did not have it in me to focus on others. This may sound very selfish but it was very necessary. I was/am still there for the people I love and my readers but it is difficult at times to help others while you are deeply hurting. No more apologies! It is okay to put your health first. You cannot help anyone else until you are able to help yourself. You cannot truly love others if you do not love yourself. Stop feeling guilty for putting your well being before the well being of others. It is truly beyond difficult for people around you to understand chronic pain and what you are facing. I urge you to give your loved ones the link to one of my posts that speaks to you. It took me way too many years to understand the fact that I had to put my health and chronic pain management first. I always wanted to please others but that always backfired too. The time is now. If you need a break from the outside world and madness do not feel guilty. It is OKAY! The people that love you will be there for you. As I have written before my two closest friends in the world have been my “sisters” since I was thirteen before and right after my bike accident. Stop worrying about what other people think. You know deep down what you have to do to make things in your life better. Do it. And email me when you have questions or need help or advice. I beg you all to really try and let go of the guilt you feel. No one asks for chronic pain and no one gets flowers for chronic pain. Give yourself some flowers and put yourself first: greatest gift you will ever receive.

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Take Care of YOU first!

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Life Can Change Quickly!

I awoke this morning with a calm that I rarely awake with. I usually awake in a panic that comes from my chronic pain and anxiety. Hence why I never waste time lying in bed in my panic fearing things that will most likely never happen. I exercise the second after I brush my teeth and yes even sleep in my workout clothes. My daughter and I left for a run before seven and it was one of the most peaceful, happy runs I have had in months. The weather was amazing but it was more than that. I just felt calm and had this sense that everything was going to work out. I am no longer worried about getting pregnant as our fertility doctor found the issue which is quite small and an easy fix and I realized while running that I just want to live a simpler life without always jumping to the next thing. I live a very simple, happy life despite my chronic pain and anxiety but it is never easy. This morning as we ran I felt a peace that I cannot be expressed with words. I was happy.

We arrived home and my dad was in my kitchen. He told me that my Pop Pop had passed away last night. He has been on hospice and was in his eighties and no longer wanted to suffer but any loss is hard. As a child I was extremely close to my father’s dad. He babysat me all the time and we had a Sunday tradition to meet at McDonalds before church each week. Most of my birthday parties were held in his home because he had an indoor pool. Once he moved to Virginia with his wife (whom is a grandmother to me) I never missed a chance to visit him on his farm. It was the greatest parts of my summers. I loved his mini farm. I was allowed to drive the lawnmower, swim in the pool, walk along the creek, stay up late and be spoiled with candy, and lay in the hammock reading for hours on end. There were many times my friends and I would take the train to visit the Virginia farm and I know some of my friends have amazing memories from their farm in Virginia. Later in life, after my bike accident and life got crazy for everyone my Pop Pop and his wife Terry moved to Arizona and I rarely was able to see them as I once had. I have so many great memories with my Pop Pop but what I am most grateful for is how he and my Grandmother, La La raised my dad. My dad truly is an angel and although I am sad today because I love my Pop Pop but my heart really hurts for my dad. He is the strongest most giving man in the world and I never want him to feel any pain. I know that is not rational because with love and life comes pain but I do not have to like it.

I am not a very religious person but I am quite spiritual and know that there is something out there far greater than you or I can ever imagine. I worked as an elderly social worker for almost ten years and saw death on a daily basis. One of my main jobs was counseling families through the grieving process. I never got numb as some social workers do to the heartache of death but this quote from one of my favorite shows of all time makes me feel comforted. “Why do people have to die?” I could never find an answer that made any sense to me until the show Six Feet Under came out and the character Nate’s response still comes to mind: “To make life important.” When I start sweating the small stuff and worrying about things that will most likely never happen I think about how life can just take a quick turn in a second.

It is the first of May and if you are following my blog or are just human, you probably have problems in your life as we all do: chronic pain or not. Take a minute today and let the people you love know you love them. Give them that extra hug. Sometimes it is truly better to be happy than right. Spread some love and kindness today even if you are hurting. Sometimes when I am having the most difficult days, making someone else feel better takes away some of my pain.

I love you Pop Pop and I love you Dad.
This post is dedicated to both of you

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Life Can Change Quickly!

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Taking Control

I think that one of the greatest signs of strength is taking something awful that occurs in your life and turning it into something worth fighting for. Yes, I had a bike accident that resulted in brain surgery and chronic pain for the remainder of my life. I let it destroy my life for a long time until I decided to turn it into something positive. Once I gained control over my chronic pain and started living I went to school to be a social worker to help others who were sick. Now that I am once again managing chronic pain in a healthy way, I use this “curse” I was given to motivate me to be a healthy, happy person. I am hopefully showing my daughter and family the importance of eating healthy, exercising, practicing gratitude, and living life to the absolute fullest. Once I got rid of any medication I was using to help/hurt my chronic pain I literally knew I had to do something to help others out there who were suffering from chronic pain. I am/was computer illiterate (did not even own a computer) but I went out bought myself a lap top and figured out how to begin a blog to help others with chronic pain. I’m not sure I am making a huge difference but I do know from emails I receive I am helping a handful of people and that is enough for me. My goal is to reach thousands of people suffering from chronic pain who have lost hope and share my story so they too can see there is a way through chronic pain.

I met my brother in-law five years ago on Thanksgiving Day. My boyfriend (now husband) and I drove to Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving break with his family. I had never been scared to meet anyone in my life but I knew then as I do now that I had found the person I would spend my life with and really wanted his family to love me. I was so nervous that my chronic pain was at an all time high which really was not helping. I remember the first conversation I had with my future brother in-law. At the time he was living in Chicago and was telling me over some drinks about his city and life in cold ass Chicago. The first thing I said to him was: “One of my best friends went to Boston College, so I know all about Chicago. I used to visit her all the time.” As my future in-laws and husband would learn geography was not my strong point, to say the least. I remember his face when I said this and looking back it is quite comical but at the time I was frozen in embarrassment. Just recently I learned that Alaska is a state. My husband found this hilarious and now that we are truly a family I laughed my ass off as well. Does that prove how awful I am with geography? Anyways, it was a rough beginning in meeting the people I really wanted to love me.

Over the years my brother in-law have gotten along but him being in Chicago and us in New Jersey keeps us from seeing one another often. He is one of a kind. I am so happy that I am on his good side because he always tells it how it is. You always know where you stand with Kraig. I was mildly scared of him when we first met because he always says what he is thinking and is a very tough nut to crack. However, once Kraig loves you there is nothing he will not do for you. He was here visiting us in New Jersey many months ago and gave us the amazing news that he landed an amazing job in Florida (a state he loves as I do!) I was so happy for him and knew this was exactly what he needed. A couple weeks later he and the love of his life, Biskit (his adorable pug) moved out to Florida to begin a new life. My mother and father in-law went out there to help him move and could not stop expressing what an amazing place he had moved to. Sadly and shockingly a few weeks after moving to Florida, Kraig’s dog got very sick. For anyone that has owned a dog you know that they are like children: there is nothing one would not do for their child just as there was nothing Kraig would not have done for his dog. I spent multiple hours on the phone with Kraig as he drove Biskit to the greatest Vet hospital in Florida. I had never heard him so distraught and my heart literally ached. I wanted to be with him so much so that he was not alone during this awful experience. After a couple days of pure torture, Biskit passed away. My brother in-law did everything possible to help his baby live and be healthy but the doctor finally told him there was literally nothing he could do. Biskit was the world to Kraig and the night she passed our family spent the night crying our eyes out. I was crying because I loved Biskit but I was balling because of how much I love Kraig. I will be honest, I was scared for him. I was afraid he would numb his pain with drinking as many of us have done (including myself) in difficult times. I have never been more wrong. Kraig made a promise to his baby. He promised Biskit that he would get healthy and cut down on drinking. We all make promises in desperate times and sadly do not usually keep them. My brother in-law kept this promise and has the occasional/rare drink, is on an weight loss plan, and is getting healthy. He has lost almost twenty-two pounds and is feeling better. The best part is that he is proud of himself. This is another example of taking an awful thing and turning it into something positive. I love my brother in-law as my own brother (I hate the term in-law….so distant.) I cannot express how proud I am of him. He cannot control the fact that he lost his baby girl. He did everything he could and more! What he can control is how he manages his life and his health. He has taken control over his life and in some ways I feel Biskit saved him.

I did not choose to have brain surgery and chronic pain. My brother in-law never chose to lose his baby girl but we do not have control over these things. We do have control over how we chose to live our lives despite our illnesses and losses. I have never been more proud to call Kraig a brother and an inspiration.

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Taking Control

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Points of View

Today started just as any regular Monday would. My daughter awoke me around five, we had a great run and then were running errands before eight am. Our first stop was Super Walmart. As we were walking around the store I stopped to the area of the store most women for some reason hate to be seen around: the pregnancy planning section. There was one woman standing there and I would usually give a person their privacy in this section but my daughter only lasts so long in stores at this point in her development. The woman looked quite distraught and asked me which pregnancy tests were the best. I was more than happy to help her and we began talking. Long story short, her and her husband have been trying to get pregnant for the past six months with no luck. We bonded over the fact that we were both equally discouraged at the whole “trying to get pregnant” thing and that we were both healthy and the same age. I helped her find a pregnancy test kit and she helped me with the ovulation kits. We parted ways and I felt comforted by the fact that I had met this woman who is going through something that I am going through as well.
Ten minutes later, I was searching for the correct peanut butter when the woman came running towards me with her pregnancy test in hand. She yelled across the aisle: “I am pregnant! I was just searching for you. Look! Two pink lines.” My first reaction was honestly happiness for her. I hugged this random thirty two year old woman who had just peed on a stick in Walmart and told her how happy I was for her. She left quickly with a walk of happiness I had when I found out I was pregnant with Kayci. I have to be one hundred percent honest: I was suddenly filled with sadness and grief from my miscarriages. Then guilt for not being happy for someone else. My eyes filled up and I left the store crying.

Next stop was our local produce store. I put a smile on and tried extremely hard to forget about the Walmart trip and all the feelings I had. Whether those feelings were rational or not doesn’t matter: they were real to me. I ordered our spinach, ginger, swiss chard, carrots, etc. and one of the men who works there helped carry the two boxes of produce to my car. I love juicing, helps with chronic pain! As we walked outside he pointed to two cars: a brand new Lexus and an older VW Jetta. He asked which car was mine and jokingly I said: “Um definitely not the Lexus! I was a social worker and now a stay at home mom, remember?” He laughed and then said: “Hey, at least you have a car. I have to take two different buses here at five in the morning every day. But, I thank the good Lord every day I wake up and am still breathing.” I responded: “Good for you, I really need to work on being more grateful for the things in my life.” And that I meant one hundred percent.

I honestly believe we never meet anyone by accident. Any of my close friends or family members know that anywhere I go they know me and almost everything about me. I talk to everyone because everyone has a story to tell and I love meeting people and getting to know their story. It was such an odd Monday morning because I talked to two different people with such different stories to tell. Each of their stories affected me immensely. What will stick with me is the man I see on a regular basis at my produce store. I wish we all (myself included) could be more grateful each day we wake up for just being given another day in this world.

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Points of View

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