“If you suffer it is because of you. If you are blissful it is because of you. No one else is responsible, only you and you alone. You are your own hell and your own heaven too.”
I have had a few days where I have had to leave my comfort zone and just relax and rest. If you know me, I am not a fan of resting and being still for too long. I am the definition of an over thinker and having an invisible illness such as chronic pain has only intensified my roller coaster of thoughts. After ten years of searching for a cure to chronic pain and finally finding a way to manage pain and live a life that makes me happy, it is very difficult for me to step away from the routine I am so accustomed to. My day usually begins around five in the morning with stretches and exercise. Of all the tools I use to manage chronic pain, exercise is definitely one of my favorites and most useful. It helps with my chronic pain and my subsequent anxiety. I stay busy throughout the day which is quite easy to do with a four year old daughter, work, and running a home that I am proud of. My other favorite tool for managing chronic pain naturally is the utilization of distractions. I train my brain to not think about pain and am usually quite successful in this exercise. However, for the past few days I have been forced to rest in bed which on one hand has been very difficult. I want to play with my daughter, run my errands, make dinner, and finish the damn laundry that has been sitting in the laundry room for two days. I do not enjoy being vulnerable and relying on other people to help me and do things for me. I begin to feel guilty, frustrated, and the little control freak buried inside me comes out in the silliest ways one can imagine. For instance, I find it difficult to walk into my daughter’s playroom because I know it is not organized the ‘Jessica’ way.
On the other hand, the past few days have been a great lesson for me. I have had to let things go and find distractions that have nothing to do with exercise and/or activity. I have caught up on my favorite television shows, books, and even went back to my gratitude journal and began doing the exercises that are found in the book. The book is entitled: “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I have read the book but have never attempted to truly do the workbook that accompanies this very inspiring book. The first three assignments were quite simple for me. I was asked to write down fifty things I am grateful for: things from having food in the fridge to being blessed with a beautiful, happy daughter. The second was to write down the five things I want in my life more than anything. Number one on my list was to have more children: no brainer there. The third exercise was to write down the things that I wanted to work on within myself to find more inner joy. Ironically, this was the easiest exercise the workbook asked of me. I wrote down so many things that I ran out of room the page allotted me. Sadly, the fourth exercise was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The exercise asked me to write down five things or more that I loved about myself: my gifts. I came up with two right away: empathetic and funny. I even felt a little guilty writing down funny. It took me longer to find five things I am sincerely proud of about myself then it did to find fifty things I was grateful for. No one else needs to read my simple abundance workbook so why was I so hesitant to write exactly how I do feel about myself? Yes, there are things I want to work on and am working on but there are more than two things about myself I am proud of. However, I felt some sense of ridiculous guilt putting them down on paper. I learned that I need to own the things I feel good about regarding myself and my life. I have worked hard to get where I am especially with chronic pain. I have a lot to be proud of and should not feel ashamed for feeling good about those things in my life. I focus more on the things I need to work on than the goals I have already achieved.
I believe this to be true: no matter where we are in our journey with chronic pain or life in general, we should be more focused on our gifts than our downfalls. The more we focus on the good in ourselves, the easier it will be to work on the things we know need some help. None of us are perfect and chronic pain makes life incredibly difficult at times but we all have special gifts that we need to start putting more focus on.