I’ve spent much of my life taking it easy. Not sure what made me learn to do it, but somewhere along the line it just became habit. Not to push myself very hard, not to attempt things that are overly physical, or lift things that are heavy. There have been countless times where I will pull back from something, and somewhere in the back of my head, it feels wrong. I can’t possibly be that fragile, this is stupid to be so careful.
As I got older and had kids, my life went from “let’s take it easy,” to “I’m not gonna deprive these kids of anything just because it hurts me!” But I was also creeping closer to 30 and I realized that I had lived kind of a boring life at times in an attempt to keep from hurting myself. I decided to change things up a bit, to hell with the pain. My life became a cycle of pain and accomplishment that seems never-ending. And as I’ve learned, I’m not even close to being alone in it.
The holidays are an especially easy time for chronic pain sufferers to overdo it. Thanksgiving already beat me down twice. Two different times I pushed myself, did way too much, and then paid dearly for it. I was so frustrated that I did that to myself, twice in a matter of days, and I took to Facebook to vent. Sometimes the only people who truly get it are the ones who suffer the same things you do. And the response I got, was just comment after comment of everyone exclaiming “yes! I do the same thing! Why do we do this to ourselves!”
And yes, this was a special occasion. You want things to be perfect for the holidays so you go nuts. I get it. I repeated these bad choices for Christmas and a few times since the year new already. But for those of us with confused, curvy spines, it is an absolutely every day thing. I wake up to see what parts of the house are a mess, and if I feel up to it, I go to town cleaning everything I can. At the end of the day I might even feel proud of what I accomplished, but on those days, I pay for it. Because that’s when I need to take a pain reliever just to get to sleep. That’s when I wake up in pain in the morning and everything I do hurts. I get mad at myself for doing too much, and then I’m forced to relax and try to heal, doing only what is required to get through the day. Then while I’m trying to heal, chores build up, anxiety builds, and a day soon comes where I exclaim, “I can’t do this anymore!” I go on another cleaning spree, never actually getting everything done, and again, I have to stop. I might even repeat it the next day, making my already hurting body so much worse. The house will look okay, but I can be found crying on the couch with a heating pad, a massager or a tens unit, popping pain relievers and having another pity party. But I can’t seem to stop doing it.
When you struggle with constant pain, finding a happy medium is either ridiculously difficult, or downright impossible. It’s a choice between staying at a 6 pain wise to attempt to keep up every day (and never actually get everything done), or take care of yourself so you can actually feel okay for a few days, and then just deal with a 9 or 10 for a day or so. You probably get the same amount done, but at least this way you might get a few good days in between. Neither choice is ideal for you or anyone else. It feels like you can’t win.
So if you ever come to my home and I tell you, “Sorry about the mess,” I mean it. I really do hate that I can’t have a Pinterest worthy home. I hate that I can’t seem to keep up in a way that won’t aggravate my husbands OCD. I hate that the simplest things need to be planned out instead of just done. And I hate that although I’m doing my best, I feel constant guilt that I can’t do more. That I can’t be more, and that my pain holds me back from so much. And that I will continue to do this to myself, over and over again.