Pain In The Neck

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For about 25 years I have lived with chronic pain in my back and neck. It was the result of two on the job injuries one of which involved trying to catch and patient and his ventilator as he began falling off a gurney on the way to the shower. This was followed two weeks before or later (I no longer remember) when I caught an old lady who was going down on the floor. Several years later I was in a car accident. All of this has added up to chronic pain in my neck, shoulders, and back. If I don’t go crazy the pain/spasms are manageable but certain things set me off like repetitive bending and sitting for long periods of time. After all these years I have gotten pretty good at knowing where I can go and what I can do without setting myself up for painful back spasms.

Recently, my primary care physician sent me to a doctor who specializes in pain management. He is a nice guy who listens well and treats his patients with care. I had a workup and in the end he thought it would be helpful to have injections in my trigger points to break them up and hopefully provide some relief to the pain. I had had those same injections soon after the original injury and I passed out cold in the doctor’s office so I wasn’t looking forward to the procedure. In fact, I have been dreading it.

Well, today was the day and luckily it wasn’t as bad as it had been previously. I had ten shots in my neck/shoulders and while it made me woozy I am happy to report I remained upright and conscious the entire time!

I am now home with a massive headache and a lot of hope that this treatment will help decrease the chronic pain that I have endured for so long. Living with chronic pain has affected my life in so many ways. It has made me tired, grumpy, and hesitant to do/try things. It has made me uptight and has decreased my self-confidence. Usually I have managed to keep my discomfort under wraps so as not to burden others but not always. Sometimes I just got grumpy with those who love me the most and I am sure it contributed to my “maybe divorce.” I also believe that it is the root cause of my fibromyalgia.

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Happily, today, I truly believe that this time the injections will help. Like so many things going on in my life at this particular point and time, I expect to have a fundamental shift in how I interact with those around me and in how I treat myself if I can decrease or eliminate this pain. I am excited and am blessed that I live in a country in which this option is available to me and I can hardly wait to jump for joy again as chronic pain becomes a distant memory.

Reminder: If a loved one suffers from chronic pain…believe them when they say they are hurting and lighten their load if you can. Until you have endured you will not understand how daily doses of pain effect you and your family. Be kind, be patient, be gentle and ask what you can do to help. Who knows, someday the table may be turned and you will want the support that someone who has lived lived with chronic pain because they will understand what you need and will be there for you. Indeed, what goes around come around!

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Returning Home

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Tomorrow I head back home after seven days away and sometimes I wonder what I am going home for and who I am going home to. You tell me that you are all fine. That things are going along comfortably without me. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of my being there when it is so obvious that my being there is not what you want?

This morning when you told me that you asked the kids whether they missed me it made me wonder whether you had an ulterior motive. I mean, who asks their kids that? Kids always miss their mothers. Or were you hoping that they would say no so you wouldn’t feel guilty about what it is you appear to want to do?

But more importantly, the fact that you could not and would not give me what I needed…love words…speaks volumes about where our relationship is at. It crushed my soul that you feel such distaste for me that you could not say you missed me and you loved me. Whether you wouldn’t or your couldn’t…neither one is acceptable for is shows a lack of respect, caring and obviously the type of love that is needed for a marriage to flourish. Shutting down only allows you to keep yourself shut off and to reflect back any love that is directed to you which then allows you to convince yourself that I don’t love you. And it is all because you don’t want that love…at least from me. Or so it would appear.

Even more importantly, I wonder what parts of myself I should bring back and what parts I should leave behind that would help you to love me again. Which parts do I leave at the door because they are no longer desired or is it a matter of just not stepping over the threshold at all because there is nothing there that appeals to your sense of what a marriage should be. And it makes me resentful that I feel that I have to leave the best parts of me at the door to get your approval. That I have to drop off that introspective part, my inquisitive nature, and the part that believes you when you say “I love you” at the prompt.

After we talked this afternoon you said that the letter I sent you made you feel that you always disappointed me but to me telling your lover what it is you need is giving them the opportunity to create a better relationship. And me too. Yet, if the truth be told I think you USE that fact that you feel like you disappoint me as an excuse to be bitter and to prove to yourself that you are right. That nothing you do will make me happy. But I should be able to state my thoughts without being made to feel like if I do that you will think that you disappoint me. Often I believe that if I just smiled and never told you how I felt about anything that would make you happy and comfortable because you would never have to look at things that you didn’t want to. You could live in la-la land being happy while I became more and more miserable being something I am not. I mean if I can’t say in the kindess way I know how what I need from a relationship then I think that a life size blow up doll is your next option. Probably a skinny brunette.

As it is I wish you would ask yourself why you could not and would not assure me of your love? Why would you not say you missed me? Are you withholding because you no longer love me? If so, I can tell you that it feels cruel and inhumane. It feels life taking not life giving.

Yes, I know that yesterday I discussed that fact that holding onto our hurts only increases our own suffering and it does. I know this to be true because yesterday, I did let them go and they left leaving behind the lessons to unpack and contemplate. Yet, here they are back again and this feels like a major disappointment to me because it feels like I have failed myself as I pull out this hurt once again. But I hope in writing all of this, that by seeing my words in front of me, I can let it go and start concentrating on the lessons that are presenting themselves so I can grow.

Maybe it is all baloney. Maybe I can never be that type of person. Maybe I am just kidding and deluding myself but I  would like to think not. I believe that I can and will be able to re-train my brain into seeing things in a new light. And that if I can start to apply what I have learn from these lessons that I find myself intertwined in at this moment;  that someday in the not so distant future that I will finally not allow myself to give you such power over my own emotions. That I will learn to let go of things I cannot control and accept those things that I cannot.

Acceptance isn’t instantaneous. Learning how to allow acceptance to float throughout your life takes practice. Learning that you will not get everything you want from your relationship and you might have to find other ways to fill the void is something I am beginning to seriously consider and am searching for ways in which I can have my needs meet through my own actions rather than yours. It will take a while more. I am still learning. How long it will take I cannot say. But I know that when I come to accept you and myself that things will improve dramatically.

Until then I know that I am doing the best I can working with what I have got at this moment in time. If it is not enough for you then I am truly sorry. If it is, then I hope you have the courage to give me the time that I need to complete this journey that I am on, on my own terms and at my own pace. If you cannot, then you will lose out on something wonderul in the future. I may not know much but this much I know to be true.

 

 

Letting Go Of Suffering

I have to admit that I have struggled since I wrote B the letter I shared in my last post. In this letter that I wrote to him, I told him exactly what I needed to hear from him…love words. I have yet to receive a comment from him about what I wrote nor have I heard the words that I long to hear. Frankly, it hurts and it has been bothering me for the past few days. Instead of enjoying what I have been given here in Michigan; I have been ruminating on what I don’t have back home.

Luckily, I woke up this morning to find something meaningful on my Facebook wall and it was exactly what I needed to see. It read:

“If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.”

What wise words! Suddenly it took the sting out of this disappointment that I had been feeling for the past few days.  I realized that by allowing the hurt and disappointment I was feeling to cloud my day; I was indeed suffering and I was creating this suffering of my own accord. In fact, I was suffering more as every hour went by wishing for some sort of something from B…anything. So instead, I began to focus on the lessons I might find through this instance and found that there were many lessons that I could learn from if I chose to do so.

  1. The first lesson I discovered was that by acknowledging my feelings and then casting them aside I didn’t have to urge to carry them around with me like a suitcase stuffed full of heavy negative emotions. Yes, I was disappointed. Yes, his lack of response made me feel abandoned and scared. Yes, his withholding something from me that I plainly laid out that I needed from him made me feel anxious and wonder if he would still be there when I got home. Yet, by learning to view these feelings dispassionately; I was able to put the suitcase down and walk away from those hurtful actions and the resulting feelings I was experiencing. The lesson was much much valuable than the suffering could ever be.
  2. The second lesson I thought about was that I didn’t need B to acknowledge my heartfelt letter to be happy. Instead, I went about my day appreciating all of the people and things that I found around me. I was happy and didn’t need his lack of response to elicit any sort of reaction one way or another within me.
  3. The third lesson I concentrated on was that B will never be able to give me what I need because that is not who he is and that I have to learn to find happiness in what he can give instead of what he cannot if I want to  stay married to him.  B saying loving words is about as probable as a frog being able to bark like a dog…it isn’t going to happen.

 

After these discoveries I spent the day with my 82 yo father and 92 yo aunt. We went down to Lake Michigan and enjoyed the water, the waves, and the boats as they cruised through the canals.

I really treasure spending time with these two when they are together because they bicker like little kids. Nothing long and hard but just snippets like from when they were children. The things that they gripe about tickle my insides and I always break into a big smile as it happens.  Why, I wonder, is it easier to listen to them than to my own children when they go at it?

As I watched the two of them it occurred to me that my aunt has gotten to the place where the small hurts no longer effect her. She realizes that we all have flaws and for the most part she recognizes that we all do our best with what we have within us at the moment. But she wasn’t always like that and that in itself gives me hope that I can still change into the person I envision myself being. Someone who is at peace with the world and more importantly herself. Someone who grants grace rather than find fault. Someone who does not expect things from others and is disappointed when they don’t appear. Someone who wakes up each day grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow some more.

So as the day winds down I am counting my blessings. Glad that I am here with two people who are willing to share what they know and the love that they have for me willingly.

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50/50

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The other day when we came close to calling it quits (and for all I know maybe you still are) I asked you how content you were with me. Your reply of 50/50 stunned me and knocked me flat to the ground. I never would have guessed that you are that miserable with me especially because I do not believe that I make life that unbearable for you or our family.

I remember when we were young and newly married I always thought that to have a happy relationship you had to feel content with your partner 90% of the time and at that point in our relationship I think we were. Perhaps I was unrealistic in thinking that 90% was the magic number to ensure happiness, but, frankly, I tend to still believe it and based on your 50/50 number it makes me realize that there may not be much hope for an enduring relationship with that low of a percentage.

If you are not content with me that much of the time then I can only say that it appears you have chosen to be unhappy with a life that I believe most men would be happy to live. If you are unhappy more than you are happy or close to it seems to me to be a waste of time. In fact, I would say that it is a squandering of the life you have been given. I have to believe that everyone on this earth should be content with their partner a heck of a lot more than that for love to be able to be shared at an emotionally deep, spiritually fulfilling and meaningful level. A level that stirs the heart and soul. A level that provides peace and introspection. A level that excites you and leaves you hoping for more and waiting with a sense of positiveness and  excitement of what the future holds for the relationship.

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Ask and you shall receive it is said, yet, I persist on asking you questions like, “How content are you with me?” Finally, I am beginning to realize that these types of questions are self-defeating because they set me up for automatic failure and a sense of self-loathing due to disappointment in the answers I receive from you. Upon examining this phenomenon, I have begun to understand that I ask because I am a woman and as such I was raised to try to understand the emotions of others. I thought my job was to intercept the unhappiness that may be floating around and destroy it. I was taught that it was my responsibility to make my husband happy, my children happy, and, yes, even ensure that the dog is tail waggingly happy. That is not to say that I have always done this well just that I thought as a woman it was what I should attempt to do.

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Yet,  I am slowly beginning to understand that I should not ask you those types of questions because your answer could change in a minute or an hour or a day.  And with this realization, I am beginning to ask myself why I choose to give you the power to crush me with your words. In all honesty, I think it is because I hope that by knowing these answers to these questions that somehow I can make it better. That I can try harder, be more, do more and all the other impossible quests that I have attempted to try an improve our relationship and to try to get you to love me again. To try to make you see that I am somehow worthy of your love because that is how women are raised …to be the caretakers, the heart tenders, and the mind openers. And if by some sort of miracle, everyone in our family is happy, that it is a reflection on me. That I have done my job well and that others contentment should make me happy too.  But I am beginning to let it settle into my soul that happiness in an individual thing. That I can no more make you happy than I can make the moon sing. Yes, I can contribute to your sense of well-being and happiness but I am not responsible for it.

Which brings me to my true thoughts on this matter. If you are 50/50 content with me then that is your choice and it most likely is not due to my actions the majority of the time. Frankly, I radiate a heck of a lot more than 50% happiness and contentment on a daily basis. For I am loving, kind and supportive, nurturing, content and enthusiastic a heck of a lot more than 50% of the time. That has been proven because we have so much good together including much laughter, great sex and a shared love of many things including adventure, discovery and travel. We have worked together to get what the boys need and have raised children that we can be proud of.  I can’t say that about very many couples I know who have been married the number of years that we have. So this tells me that you choose to see who I am and how we interact in a negative way despite whatever good it is that I do. And that how you choose to see me may be a result of what you want to see to justify a “maybe divorce” rather than how I truly am. Your negative mindset about me and our relationship has been an ongoing thing for the past several years and I am beginning to comprehend that is yours to deal with and not mine. That you choose to take what I say as being “disappointed” in you rather than just allowing me to express how I feel which may have nothing to do with you at all. Frankly, sometimes I believe that this “disappointment” you feel gives you an excuse to emotionally opt-out of the relationship because you can “never make me happy” rather than the fact that you will not be happy because you are choosing not to be of your own volition. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be unhappy and only you can do that.

 

Therefore, in the future, I will try to refrain from asking those type of questions.  Because I am finally realizing that your perceptions may be skewed towards making your visions of what you  THINK you want your life to be, inconsistent with what our life together truly is.  Because it would appear that no matter what I do, no matter how our relationship evolves, that this marriage is not what you want for your future.  That I am not what you want for your future.  I cannot change that. Meanwhile, seeking answers that make you “question” things in our relationship that maybe should not be questioned is the one thing I can still change. And even though I still believe that “good” personal relationships seek enlightenment from that relationship by asking questions and examining the resulting answers; I am beginning to understand that good/growth/awareness can only come from these types of conversations if that is what the other is seeking too.

So take your 50/50 and ruminate on it a bit. As for me, I will choose to make myself happy even if it is without you. Because I have only one life to live and I intend to live the rest of it with a sense of well-being.  And starting today I will practice choosing to see the ordinary as extraordinary and that the world is a better place because I am in it. So sorry you do not choose to do the same.

 

Distance

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I thought things were so much better between us but it feels like we are headed downhill once again. The distance between us has re-appeared and it makes us wary, circling one another, both waiting for the other to make the first strike.

The distance between us varies. Right now it feels like a ship off course from its intended destination. Off course because a storm is tossing it about in rough deep seas and as I look out of the window all I can see is gray skies and rolling waves the size of skyscrapers. And the smell sticks to you like wet, moldy grass. But it is the smell of fear that fills the room. Fear of sinking and fear of knowing you can never swim hard enough or fast enough to plant your feet firmly on the ground.

Sometimes I associate this distance with my GGG Grandparent immigrants. That last kiss, that last hug and that last wave knowing that all of it would be the last of everything and everybody you knew and that you would never see those who were left behind again. It feels conflicted…excited at a new chance, scared about what the unknowns were before you, and sad for all you were leaving behind. Sometimes our distance feels deeper than this sort of distance.

Often the distance between us feels like we are across from one another, standing in a sunny meadow. I reach for you and I find I am stuck in concrete and that I cannot move. Sometimes you see me and make your way towards me. Other times you turn your back and walk away.  It feels confusing and leaves a terrible taste in my mouth like dry burnt toast.

And sometimes this distance feels like we are just feet away from each other on a bridge but we both fail to take off our blindfolds so we can see that the other is right in front of us. This is even harder…so close…yet so far apart.

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