Three years ago, my life as I knew it ended. My reality of ease and ability was ripped from me slowly, yet oh so suddenly, over the course of a few months. At first, I thought I might as well have died. I floundered, and sank, and mourned and raged and even gave up a few times. Like being born, or trying to breathe underwater, I was learning a whole new skill set, and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to learn. Not that it's easy now. It's still a challenge every day to leave my bed, to function through and above the stabbing and gnawing, and to do it with a smile, at least some of the time.
But I do it. And I am proud of myself every day for living through this. At the end of a bad day, I'll console myself with what I've accomplished. My ever-supportive boyfriend rubs my shoulders and I tell him, often through tears, about how I loaded up the dishwasher, or washed and folded the towels, or made us an awesome dinner or how I managed to get out of bed. Or maybe I didn't, but I did manage to keep breathing, all while being tortured by my own body. When being alive is an accomplishment, you know things are rough.
Now, this isn't meant to be sad, it's meant to be strong. I am in some amount of pain at least 20 hours of every day. And I'm okay. Sure, I battle depression, like an estimated (via google) 3 out of 5 women with chronic pain do. I cry, and I rage, and I still flounder sometimes. But I smile every day and I laugh most. I insist on having a happy life. I refuse to waste my one chance on this planet. I keep my experience in perspective, remembering my privilege. I may be poor and in pain, but I live in a mostly free country with running water and fresh food and a warm, clean bed. My doors lock and I usually feel safe. I have love in my life, and friendship. I have the internet. My life could be so much worse.
So, how do I live with the pain? I keep breathing, even if underwater. I seek out the positive, am somewhat okay with the negative and refuse to be miserable.
Also, I'm not shy about self-medicating.