Pain In The Neck

images-3

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.

images-1

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!

images-4

 

Voices In My Head

th

Okay, I know this will sound kind of psychotic, like I am hearing “voices” in my head. But lets face it, we all do. Whether we call it our conscious,ego or intuition; there is something in our heads that from time to time influences and directs us. Usually, listening to this voice can be a good thing except when what we are hearing is negative self-talk about ourselves.

When I first started this “maybe divorce” journey I immediately took steps to change my attitude and my outlook on life. And it helped a lot and for quite a while. But lately I have realized I am slipping back into the negative self talk and decided that I needed to revisit those practices that I began which quieted this negativity. So I am back to “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”  when I hear negative self-talk, followed by the exact opposite of the negative said three times. It might look like this.

“He doesn’t love you”

“CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”

“HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU” or instead I just stop and look around taking note of what I see around me.

“OH THE CLOUDS ARE BIG AND FLUFFY WHITE TODAY. LOOK AT THOSE BIRDS SITTING ON THE TELEPHONE WIRE. MUST BE 20 OF THEM”

I refuse to give this negative self-talk the time of day.

So far this correction of my negativity has been helping to decrease it. By paying attention of what my inner dialogue is saying to me; I am aware of how negativity begets negativity and how negative internal dialogue influences your external life. Once again, I am reminded that living with negativity is such a caustic way in which to live on a daily basis.

As I contemplated this a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I am my worst critic. The “Constructive Criticism” or negative self-talk I indulge in is often cruel or mis-guided. It seems strange that I so readily accept it of/for myself. Because, frankly, if another person treated me the way I treat myself… if that person said the words to me that I say to myself… well, I wouldn’t put up with it. In fact I would probably tell that mean gurl:

“SEE YAH. DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT!”

Yet, for some reason, many of us give this negative person who dwells within us too much power. We believe that THEY are on our side and have something valuable to say when in fact they don’t. We treat THEM like they are some sort of expert on how we should live our day-to-day lives. We give THEM the power to guide us regarding how we react to most everything we encounter during our day, when, this type of negativity does not need to be in charge of ANYTHING in our lives. In fact, when we hear it speaking, unless it is doing so with kindness and compassion, we should ignore it. We should refuse to believe anything it is telling us.  And we should “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL” until we cannot hear it anymore.

Why? Because it is only natural that when we talk to ourselves with loving kindness that is how we will treat others. And if we can’t be nice to ourselves it is doubtful others will be either.

So today, be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Listen and figure out if what is being said is coming from a place of compassion or one of self-loathing. And if it is not coming from a place of gentleness then walk away and leave those words behind. For there is only one you and you deserve to hear about the best of you and not the worst.

So be it.

th-1

 

 

Sadie

images

Sometimes the poverty that exists in this country just blows me away but what blows me away even more is the politicians that have no regard for those less fortunate than they. I have come to believe that before any politician can actually take office they should be forced to live in the middle of any city with their families, they should have to survive on food stamps, and should life without health insurance. They would have to live in buildings that long ago should have been condemned, have to take their clothes to a public laundry mat, and have to rely on public transportation wherever they go. I suspect that most would be so far out of their element that they would die of fear. Hearing guns going off constantly and living in economic chaos will do that to you.

Meet Sadie. She was a product of the foster care system until she became an emancipated minor at 16 years of age. At that time she was pregnant with her first child.She had nothing when she was pushed out into the world and she still has nothing except a broken-down rental, no furniture except a worn-down worn-out mattress, and no stove. She was never cared for properly and because of this she doesn’t believe she is entitled to anything more than she has ever known. She doesn’t think she should be doing better because she has never known what “better” is. What she sees on her neighbors tv (she can’t afford one) is just a fairy tale and not attainable to “someone like her.”

images-3

Sadie had another child by the time she was 18 years gold and things were going well until her husband died unexpectedly. Depression hit her hard and she couldn’t get the mental health support she needed. Currently there are 14.1 state mental health hospital beds per 100,000 people which is essentially at the same level as in 1850.  Because of this breakdown her children went to live with their grandmother and her guilt is immense. She wants them back but knows that they are better off where they are so she puts them first before her own desires. I think our elected officials could use a little of Sadie’s “doing the right thing” towards others mentality.

Sadie met another man and once more she found herself pregnant. She couldn’t afford birth control and there was no Planned Parenthood available. Her baby died at birth in the hospital. She doesn’t know how or why and regrets that in her sorrow she did not demand answers but she wouldn’t have known what to ask anyway she tells me. When you are poor you have no power and you expect nothing.

She’s pregnant again and her boyfriend is in jail. Hopefully, he will be out to be at their child’s birth but Sadie isn’t sure. She didn’t have the money to post bail and so she waits hoping that the judge will see what she sees in her boyfriend…a caring human being with flaws.

Maybe if a politician or two were to live with Sadie for a month they might come to understand that when you aren’t born with a silver spoon, when you haven’t been to the best schools, when you haven’t had parents there to meet your needs, when you were forced into a foster system that often exploits rather than nurtures, when you aren’t tall and beautiful, and when you don’t have an IQ of 120 that life is just tougher. Period.  Unfortunately, our rich representatives do not understand that they did nothing to deserve their good looks, their good parenting, the plentiful food they had on their table, and the comforts that their parents were able to provide for them. It was just dumb luck that they ended up living a life of privilege instead of a life of poverty.  Most didn’t earn what they got… they were just lucky to be born into various combinations of advantages through nothing they did no their own. The lives they were given taught them to think in ways that many in poverty have never been exposed to nor could they conceive for themselves.

So before you let the politicians convince you that the poor are to blame for their circumstances I hope you will really contemplate where you would be in your life if you were Sadie. Then I hope you will go up to her, give her a hug, and help in anyway that you can…including holding our elected officials responsible for taking care of those less fortunate then them.

images-1

 

Understanding

images

If you have read this blog before you know that I have been struggling with B’s decision to take a “business” trip to Asia without me. For the past several years we had gone together to try to build closeness in our fragile relationship. I appreciated those times together, the shared experiences and, of course, time away from the kids. So I was hurt when he said he was going alone. Then when I asked about something that seemed odd he admitted he was going somewhere else too. I fretted and wondered if he would have even told me about this new itinerary and I felt betrayed because it brought back past business travels in which odd things had happened. But it was more than that, this anxiety I was feeling, anxiety that felt all consuming and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Until one night I realized it was rooted in fear from the past. Fear because the last time we were apart for 10 days, when I arrived home he wanted a divorce and it brought me back to two years ago when I lost my rudder. I can only imagine this is what PTSD feels like. Bleak, scary and uncertain.  And while I knew that our relationship wasn’t in the same place it was back then my raw emotions couldn’t process that fact for emotions are funny things and whether accurate or not they pull at the soul and can stretch you out of shape.

So now he is away on “business”and not a “vacation” as I insist it is. And B didn’t bother to tell me that even though he would arrive in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, he wouldn’t actually be engaging in any sort of business activity until Tuesday. I’m sorry, in my mind that is a vacation. Now I could be really upset about this. Not that he wasn’t really doing the business that he insisted he was but upset because once again the pattern of 1/2 truths has appeared to prevail. But this time I am working on really trying to see this in a different light…I hope I can succeed.

It has taken me a while to realize that not everyone loves us in the way we think we need or in the way we would like. Often, they just love us in the way that they are capable of loving us often to our disappointment or dismay. If life were ideal I would have complete and utter honesty but that is uncomfortable for B because he grew up not being allowed to express his feelings and he doesn’t feel he can express his feelings to me.This hurts though I have brought some of it on myself. B feels that to express his needs is shameful or selfish and as a result he hides them to himself and from others. So while I would have loved for him to be honest and say “I don’t have any meetings until Tuesday but I have decided that I need a few days to relax and have a few days of ME time,” he couldn’t allow himself to do that even though I asked him to just be honest and admit he wanted time alone.

imgres

So instead of being upset about the fact that he was a little less than honest I am trying to see his actions as those of a man who cannot ask for what he needs. A man who does not believe he deserves time alone. A man who believes anything he wants that does not involve his family is selfish on his part. Sure, I wish he had just been 100% honest but if I look through into his soul I know he is incapable of focusing on himself. And so I am trying to let go of the fact that he cannot love me as I wish but instead loves me as he can. It is flawed and sometimes it hurts but at this point in life this is how he loves. So I can choose to be angry or I can choose to accept knowing he is doing the best he can at this point in time. Today I choose acceptance…I hope I will choose it tomorrow too! For I deserve it and so does he.

images-1

Is It Proper To Have Sex In A Monastery…and other unanswered questions

imgres

Let’s start out with a full disclosure…this is crass post and I wonder if I should be asking about this at all but… I yam what I yam.

Since we are traveling sans children to Tibet I have been wondering…is it kosher to have sex in a guest house monastery? There appear to be no written rules of etiquette written about this. In my own experience I have discovered the following:

Secluded beach…okay

Movie Theater…not okay

On a horribly long airplane flight…how often do they clean the blankets?

10th Floor of the Hilton in the elevator…okay if you don’t get caught

In front of the police station in your car…definatly not okay

In your parents house when you are unmarried…oh gross

In your parents house when you are married…oh gross

At the Boy Scout Camp at 3 am in the shower? Probably not but it is a little titillating.

On the roof top of a certain hotel in Vegas…oh yes…please!

But a monastery? Even one with a guest house? I just don’t know. It almost seems sacrilegious like “doing it” on the alter or worse… with the alter boy.

In researching the issue it appears that for a person who is seeking to live a monastic life the answer is a definite NO. According to the teachings of various Buddhist monks, that by ridding ourselves of lust and greed we liberate ourselves from unnecessary suffering. And if the intention is to rid ourselves of suffering we must also rid ourselves of those things that cause suffering and sex would obviously be high on that list. BUT…

I am not seeking to live a monastic life, I will be in a guest house and the most important thing…I will be without children. How does this change the dynamics? I do not know. But one thing I do know is I am not going all the way to Tibet to only use my pilate muscles for trekking up a mountain. I only hope we will be smart enough not to get our body parts frozen to things not easily removed.

Oh and FYI whatever you do NEVER google… sex in a monastery…just sayin’…gross!

th-2

 

 

YOU ARE THE JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER

imgres-1

This weekend I was on trial. YOU KNEW I have been having severe pain for weeks and was having it when the “incident” happened. You knew my cousin was visiting but you would not step in and control the boys when they were so out of control.  You did not step in to help but instead chose to sit in judgement me when I finally lost it. And I didn’t even yell. NOT ONCE. How dare you!

You say,” I don’t know if I can live with you because you yell too much”, so I quit.Now its, “I don’t know if I can live with you because you sound stern and mad and point your finger.” How would you like me to handle discipline in our home so our kids know that things are a serious matter? Smile sweetly and in a chirpy voice say, “Oh please, sweet boys stop what you are doing. I beg of you?” UGH.

I am NOT your mother. You are NOT my son. I am who I am. A person trying their best. Changing. Me Changing. Yet somehow it always seems as though I am the person in this relationship needing to be the one to change…what about you? Are you putting as much effort into those things I told you I would like to see you change? Let me answer that for you. NO you are not.

So let me in on a little secret. People get upset. Yeah I know you don’t like to because you want everyone to like you especially our kids. Our kids who know this is your weakness and exploit it. Our adult daughter who admits this and says it sucks for the adult but is grand for the child. Guess what, I have emotions that I show which make you uncomfortable because you don’t or won’t show yours because your mother punished you for it and you are afraid that will happen with me. No insist that it will/does so you use it as your excuse not to figure out who you are as an emotional being.  And yet you stand in judgement of me. And if I don’t do what you want, what you need, then you will leave. But surprise it might be me whose ass is hit by the door on the way out because I have to be who I am and frankly it ain’t so bad. Sure there are things that need refining. But at least I feel. At least I can say what it is I know as my truth, my faults, my goods and my bads.  I show those sides of me and no one has to spend their energy trying to guess what it is going on inside my head.

And surprise, here is one for you…often I can even understand why you feel the way you do. But just because I speak my truth in the way I do and you get flooded…that has nothing to do with me but with your relationship with your mother and I cannot deal with that because it is your issue that you do not want to have to look hard at.

And so I go to my therapist and we go to joint counseling but when are you going to go down deep and work on you? I’m trying to change for me, for us and for our family and to do so I am having to go to places I don’t want to examine but I do it because it needs to be done. When are you going to get brave and do that too? When are you going to really look at how your past is effecting our lives now and in the future?

 

Understand Rather Than Judge

th

Aim To Understand Rather Than Judge…perhaps some of the most important words ever written. Unfortunately, I do not do it well.  I often leap to a conclusion rather than trying to comprehend what the actions of others really mean and in doing so, I neglect to value the humanity of the person that is standing before me.

I understand the benefits of increased comprehension. Taking the time to understand another human being’s perspective requires practicing empathy and developing an understanding of another person’s place/experiences in life. And in actively practicing understanding it forces us slow down and to face our own bias and to recognize our thinking is often fraught with flaws. But the benefits of understanding rather than judging not only benefits “the other”, it ultimately is a blessing to us too. Practicing active understanding often allows us to make better decisions for ourselves and others because we are able to look at the whole picture from a different perspective that is often disparate from our original inclinations. It forces us to slow down and consider the numerous other possibilities that may be impacting ourselves, others and our decision making processes.

Judging is easy. Most of us do it on a daily basis without much thought to how we are feeling about what we are judging and why. But understanding….that is a tough one. For to understand it means we have to stop and really listen and absorb what is being said. We have to pay attention to the subtle nuances, the body language, facial expressions, tone of voice to really get a clear picture of what someone is sharing with us.

I judge. I judge a lot. No, not about the issues that seem to take up so much of our political discussion these days. I welcome everyone to my table. But I do judge myself and my family often way too harshly. Sometimes I leap to the worst instead of believing in the best and it hurts everyone involved.

So this week, I will be conducting an experiment. I will time to make sure my interactions are long enough to ensure I have taken the time necessary to permit true understanding and I will listen without judgement. This might take me some time but…I’ve got 321 Days To Fix This…and I will.