Archive for the ‘pain’ Tag

Anti-Positives (not Negatives) For Those Days When Sunny Positivity Just Can’t Cut It

As you know, I’m on a mission to center positivity, gratitude and kindness in my life. I want to be the best version of me that I can be, every day. But because I am human and imperfect, I don’t always succeed. Sometimes finding the silver lining, the “one good thing” in a day utterly full of crappy, negative experiences and energy is simply too much. Some days I just can’t fake it ‘til I make it.

On those days, honoring the darkness, letting the emotional, political, mental sludge breathe and have its moment in the middle is all I can do. And, if I’m both lucky and careful, that momentary dominance will satisfy the perverseness of the universe and let me pin that day to the past, moving forward into positivity once again. It’s brutal and not at all pretty to live through, but once on the other side, relief at having given the darkness that moment makes the light a little more bright and a little more bearable.

So that’s the silver lining, the good out of the bad.

But what gets you to that place is acknowledging the pain points, the dreck that’s built up and is clamoring to get out. Catharsis, I guess. But not necessarily just a good ol’ fashioned, wracking, sobbing cry. Sometimes it calls for naming the enemies, a litany of the poisons steeping in the blood, to extinguish their power and potency. Only after being called to the fore can some of these venoms be neutralized – the power of light to bleach the stain of the dark.

To that end, I’m braving my fears of vulnerability and derision to call out some of the poisons currently plaguing my peace:

Imposter Syndrome

Being a Pathetic Loser

Loneliness and the Fear it is Forever

Inadequacy in Every Dimension

Fixating on the Unobtainable

Reliving Humiliating Moments of the Past

Beating Myself Up for Giving in to Anger

Fear of Change

Wow. That’s a lot of mental and emotional poison.

I wrote all of that over a month ago, after nearly a month of lost sleep and continual stress. I set it aside to breathe, thinking that it was too raw and left me too exposed to actually publish. I thought I just needed to get it out of my head and it would be enough. But it hasn’t stopped.

So last night, Wednesday October 24th, while I was, again, not sleeping and after my eyes called it quits on reading anymore as an escape from the poisonous thoughts, I lay still and let the poison wash over me. I decided all the fighting I’d been doing to avoid it had been futile, so maybe giving it its freedom would bring some relief. Again, maybe if I honor the darkness it’ll let me go?

So I spent the entire night reliving the most cringeworthy, painful, humiliating moments of my life, watching each scene and acknowledging it’s continued sting. It felt like walking through a thrift store, cruising the aisles full of dusty, dented, useless junk that somehow still holds a degree of fascination, picking up items and replacing them on the shelves. It was a miserable experience, yet I managed to get to the end of the aisle without shedding a tear. Despite feeling the oppressive weight of humiliation and shame that each memory carried, I looked at each one and then set it aside without further judgment or sorrow.

No profound conclusions resulted and no existential clarity emerged. I did notice a pattern in the moments that rose to the surface and it’s still percolating through my brain trying to resolve into a clear shape that I can put a name to. But there’s been no epiphany.

Still, I think it helped, in some perverse way, to let my brain purge the dreck. I’m not certain that I won’t have to confront those moments again another time, but I feel that surviving that ordeal is a triumph. Even though it cost me a day of vacation time (I was in no shape to go to work today) and a day-long headache that’s still pounding, in addition to the night-long anguish, I’m calling it a win. It’s not a bright, shiny, joyous win, but a win nevertheless.

And because any positive out of all this oily, oozing darkness should be celebrated, I’m taking my courage in both hands and am publishing this very personal realness, despite feeling naked in the spotlight by doing so.

Deep Breaths and Silver Linings

Everything in the media and in our national consciousness is awful and horribly triggering this week. And this last business day of the quarter is packed with high stress and stupidity. To preserve my sanity, I have to cling to the belief that it gets better and focusing on the positive is part of making it better. Even when the margin of “better” is so thin you can see daylight through it and the only measure of improvement is “less awful”, not good, I have to hang on that hope, because reality pretty much blows at the moment.

Deep breaths really go only so far toward less awful. So here are some salvaged silver linings that, while a might tarnished, still gleam a little through the gloom:

  1. Gallows humor is still humor and the effort required to pull a chuckle out of the middle of the thorny stress ball of a given day, by folks suffering right along with you, makes the magic of that laughter even more potent than normal.
  2. People who just get you are rare blessings. I’m so fortunate that I have both friends and colleagues who get me…and don’t flee screaming for the hills because of it. 😜
  3. A casual “you’re right and you’re awesome” from my boss after a particularly heated discussion over a quarter-end deal today was exactly what I needed to relieve the weight of always having to be the adult in the room among sales guys vying to give away the farm so they get their commissions.
  4. Someone I respect and admire told me publicly that it’s ok to prioritize my emotional and mental safety over the loud and insistent calls for bravery and social activism. I have been doing so anyway. But having someone validate your needs, tacitly refuting the implication that being fragile in the face of the uproar is inexcusable weakness, is a gift beyond measure.
  5. I’m not necessarily proud of this one, but I admit that one particularly twisted and tarnished silver lining I’ve enjoyed this week is the smug satisfaction I get when a well articulated argument, laced with snark so dry and stealthy as to be confused with courtesy, sails high over a mark’s head but is recognized by everyone else witnessing it as the devastating smack-down it was intended to be. Sometimes it’s nice having a huge vocabulary and a wickedly sharp sense of sarcastic justice.

No Context

Sometimes you just have to vent, even when you’re still committed to positivity. Sometimes it’s just too hard, takes too much energy and effort to excavate the silver lining from the cruddy day. Sometimes the thing that relieves the pressure, lets off the steam, and brings even a small measure of pain relief is a good ol’ fashioned gripe…or cry.

But even then, sometimes indulging that impulse to let it all out can be alarming, even hurtful, to those around you. That’s especially true when you spend so much time being deliberately, intentionally, carefully positive, avoiding this very type of stormy, emotional release of frustration. When you are known for calm, measured, controlled, authoritative responses, blowing off steam can be doubly jarring to witnesses unaccustomed to seeing you in an unguarded state.

Sometimes that extra burden, on top of the drive to remain positive, is too much to bear. A thing I do when this happens is to vent without revealing context or rationale for the thoughts or feelings expressed. That way I can get it out of my head and heart with the best chance of sparing others’ feelings and without having to do a lot of educating others to put it all into an easy frame of reference.

This week has had its highs and lows, but I’m feeling more of the lows than highs and have a need to shake off the darkness. Even wearing my Jedi socks and a daring bow tie/shirt combination didn’t take the edge off today. So here’s my vent, without context and in no particular order. (Don’t take it personally – this post is really just about me.)

  • Gender policing, particularly around use of public bathrooms, is exhausting B.S. Yes, I know how to read. Yes, I know it’s the “ladies room”. No, I’m not in the wrong place. No, it doesn’t hurt you for me to pee in my own stall in the same bathroom as you and your precious little girl. And no, I’m not a predator for needing to pee in peace. Get over yourself!
  • My level of tolerance for just about everything decreases in proportion to your level of ignorance and entitlement. Don’t expect me to indulge your stupidity at the expense of my personal integrity or mental and emotional security.
  • Pain sucks. It drains all my energy and makes me an emotional wreck and intellectually deficient. I’m so over it!
  • Feeling pathetic and without value, especially when I can’t identify what’s causing that irrational emotion to surge and persist, is debilitatingly irritating. Sometimes I wish I had an emotion chip like Commander Data that I could turn off and never turn back on.
  • Despite the evidence of a rough week, I am not broken and I don’t need to be pitied. Just because I am injured and moving more slowly and gingerly doesn’t give you license to touch my body without my consent. Stop with all the hands on my already aching back and limbs. Thanks, but I can walk and stand without you yanking on me! And, yes, if that sounds gruff and ungracious, then I’ll own that. But you need to own the irrationality and privilege of being offended at someone defending their agency and body sovereignty.

Okay, that’s enough venting for a good long while. Thanks for the indulgence, friends. I hope you’re having a pain- and frustration-free week and look forward to a weekend of positivity and relaxation.

Fast Positive

Man, this week has flown by! Being super extra busy at work does make for a short-feeling week. That’s a good thing. But it’s not my fast little positive that I want to share.

The positive out of, literally, the pain? Today I had the last dental procedure of this harrowing summer and I am now dental-pain free for the first time in decades. The last numbness just wore off and I took a sip of my cold soda and intentionally let it wash over my teeth. A few hours ago, and for as long as I can remember, that action would have sent a spike of pain directly to my brain and I’d have to blink back tears. Now? Blissfully, nothing!!

There are a couple spots that are tender where the needles went in, but that’ll wear off in a day or so. Aside from that, no actual pain in my mouth. I don’t think I fully realized how much pain and discomfort I’ve been putting up with for so long. But now that there isn’t any, I’m so glad!

Yay for, as my good friend Holly said today, “butching up and getting it done”!

I hope you have something blissful to be thankful for tonight. 😁

Dang it!

Well, crap! Missed my posting goal by one day. Ugh.

I’ve had a busy 8 days since my last post. Work and house-cleaning ahead of a post-holiday visit from family took up a chunk of energy. Then a great few days spent with my family, resting and visiting and swimming and dining and watching movies. It was a blast.

Then, on Monday afternoon, I had my second oral surgery. OMG that was painful! Way worse than the first. And sooooo much drool! Yuck!

I spent Tuesday resting and taking medicine. Went back to work on Wednesday, only to find that I’m not invincible. Even though all I do is read and think and type and talk to people, it was more than I could manage. I went home and slept for 5 straight hours.

Now, I’ve worked two full days and am still farther behind in my work than if I’d been out of the office for two weeks. I haven’t been this far behind in years. I hate it! So I’ll be spending time on my laptop this weekend trying to catch up.

Well, maybe after a good night’s rest and a little quiet work tomorrow, I’ll feel caught up enough to enjoy Sunday off. And maybe the recovery will advance enough that I won’t forget to post on time next week. 🙄

I hope you have a restful weekend, friends.

Owie

Ok, I’ll own that I’m a wuss and have a low threshold for pain. But, just as it’s completely possible for the paranoid to actually be the target of people out to get them, even wusses can feel when something really hurts. And this does.

The anesthetic hasn’t even worn off from the first of three oral surgeries in Butch’s Summer of Dental Fun, but I already feel the throbbing. In the immortal words of Han Solo: I have a bad feeling…about how much this is gonna hurt when the numb wears off!

So I’m gonna indulge in a little self care: jammies, soup, Tylenol, an early night and a 3-day weekend.

Be well, my friends.

Quick-Hit Post, Because I’ve Been Slack

I’ve had another one of those totally-not-fun, days-long headaches. Weather-related this time, I think. Thunderstorms for the last week or so. The pressure builds inside my skull as it builds in the atmosphere.

I really hate this kind of headache. It gripes me because it affects my thinking, my disposition, my energy, and makes Lulu worry.

But I’m determined not to be governed by a headache. I’ve been trying, with varying degrees of success (or failure, depending on your point of view) to keep an even temperament and civil speech through the grinding ache.

Today I think I succeeded. I did some seriously hard-core executive lawyering today, including mentoring one of my junior attorneys through a tricky negotiation with a mega-company and our own executive leadership. Then, I left work before dark (yay!), got my hairs cut by my fave stylist (also yay!) and got crispy tacos for supper (yay, a third time!). All without giving in to the pain demon and ripping anyone’s head off for the stupidity I’ve also endured today.

That’s WINNING in my book!

I hope you’re finding a way to feel victorious today, too. 🙂

Painful Lessons

I’ve had a headache for over a week.

Before you start lobbing “go to the doctor” bombs at my head, please be aware that I’m neither stupid nor a glutton for pain. I just know my body and this is one of the many daily, chronic headaches that I’ve experienced since I was in the seventh grade. The quality and intensity of the pain is exactly the same, if it is running longer than normal. It’s not a migraine, and, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “It’s naht ah tooomah!” This isn’t new to me.

But it IS painful.

The pain, in a sick and twisted way, is a teacher of sorts. Sometimes effective, sometimes dysfunctional. But I’ve definitely learned a few things from pain.

One thing I’ve learned in my years of dealing with sustained pain and pressure in my skull is that it is possible to compartmentalize a heckuva lot of sensory input and feedback in order to focus on the immediate moment. This ability can be key to getting things done in really crappy circumstances. It can also be a crutch to get from one moment to the next. But it can fail, spectacularly, at exactly the wrong moment. So it isn’t a one-stop solution. But it’s a good, occasional-use tool.

Another trick I’ve learned from pain is that smiling can often avert an embarrassing, technicolor return of one’s last meal. That is, smiling can sometimes thwart the gag reflex and keep you from puking long enough to get to a bathroom. Smiling is also useful to mask the outward effects of a grinding, low-level, always-there pain. That’s a necessary art, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that invisible pain is the slippery slope to ridicule and derision. If people can’t see a wound or scar, they tend to think you’re a goldbrick or hypochondriac and treat you as less-than. So, smiling through the ache can be a useful trick to preserve one’s dignity on a number of levels.

Yet, it takes a toll–the pain and smiling through it–it has a fairly high price that eventually comes due. Patience and good humor inevitably wear thin. Energy and will power last only so long before they have to be recharged. Managing mouth, emotions and pain tolerance simultaneously is a tricky business at the best of times. But when nearing the end of patience or energy reserves, it’s a whole ‘nuther level of delicate. I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to those subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints from the folks around me that my tone or wit is a shade too sharp; for me that’s a sure sign it’s time to retrench on the rest and self-care.

But through all of this, pain teaches that we are each stronger, more than our circumstances, each of us able to cope with an amazing amount of adversity if we are careful to balance grit with rest, determination with discretion. And it can teach those outside of the pain, too. You who observe the pain of others, know that ‘pushing through it’, ‘sucking it up’ is often more an act of courage than capability. Try not to judge too harshly when someone’s batteries run low and sucking it up no longer works.

So what’s the point of this post?

The short answer for those who hurt: Listen to your body, take care of it, and be kind to yourself.

The slightly longer answer for those who see the pain of others: Don’t assume from a smile or pleasant voice that a person isn’t suffering (physically or emotionally). Pay attention to what someone is not doing or saying for a clue to what pain might be doing to them, and be sensitive to their efforts to make it work.

%d bloggers like this: