I can see you now, rolling your eyes and wondering, how can she be thankful for pain…… Is it possible anything good can come from a life with pain?
Whether you live with pain as a result of a chronic illness, addiction, or a physical/mental reason, are you still able to smile? Is it possible to find happiness after a disease has stolen a career, ended friendships, stolen memories and some days even confined me to the house? Is it really possible to not fall apart?
I lived through the pain of addiction, relapse and recovery, I have lived with the pain of MS. Some would say I do it by living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world I’ve made up in my own head where everything is unicorns and rainbows. The pain I feel most days is not physical (although I wish it was) it is emotional. Is it possible for someone to fight addiction, secondary progressive MS and still find purpose in life? Can someone whose life has been striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in confusion not remembering things, continual fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything?
Is it truly possible to be thankful for a life with pain?
The truth is, pain has helped me to grow as a person. It has helped me to see “joy” is possible. I will admit entering into recovery the first and then again after a relapse, the pain seemed immense. There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Then hit with the diagnosis of MS after 4+ years of testing, the emotional roller coaster started again.
I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of pain. I wouldn’t know the simple pleasures of sitting outside enjoying the weather. I wouldn’t understand the value of time spent with those I love. I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life, often passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.
When the pain is great enough, I am ready to practice gratitude and do some work on me. In recovery, I know the pain is great as a result of those inner gremlins who keep rearing their ugly heads. I may have lost LOTS of memories but those inner gremlins sure know when to jump up and make me feel even worse. I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will have enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.
There are two things I do know………#1 Using is not an option whether it is a drink or a drug or endless shopping or binge eating. Going back to doing the things which lead me to more pain and heartache is not an option. #2 MS will not define me. I used to be brave. I used to be a tower of strength for those around me. I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with weak ankles, fading memories, and tears in my eyes.
Some days I don’t know if the emotional pain is a result of the relapse or because of the MS. The two get so jumbled together. I said for many years, the loose of memories was a result of my addiction when the truth is, it was probably the start of my MS. The pain of not being able to remain is greater than any physical pain I could ever feel. Not remembering my childhood is one thing – I mean I’m getting old, right? But when you can’t remember the day your daughter was born, when pictures don’t tigger memories, when you dan’t remember your wedding day which was only 8 years ago…..the emotional pain is great. Relying on others for their memories of particular events is tough – it is their perspective and not my own.
MS has stripped me of the person I once was. Addiction, relapse and recovery has shown me glimmers of the me I could become or used to be. I know it sounds weird since I don’t have many memories BUT if I can feel good about me then it is a good day. Today, I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas pushing against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.
Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, I am more than MS (or whatever you are dealing with). We are more than the pain. We are more than the loneliness, the struggles and the fears. We are true warriors! People may never understand the battles we face (although in recovery there are others who thankfully get us) or see the internal struggles taking place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.
Wear your badge of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.
Have a blessed day!