First, I want to say thank you. In the midst of a global pandemic and the toll it’s taken on everyone, whether big or small, so many people have reached out to me to ask how I’m doing after my inpatient treatment. It’s meant a lot to me because it’s hard to ask for attention at a time like this, when the extreme suffering of so many others is front & center in all of our minds, for good reason. So I receive your care as a gift I don’t deserve, and please know I’m thankful for each one of you who are reading this, because you clearly care for me if you’ve journeyed with me all this way.
I’m continuing to do very well after the inpatient treatment for my migraines. I still have a headache, but it’s what I call a “normal person headache.” It’s not debilitating for most of the day, and it’s maybe even stopped a few times. When I imagined my headache stopping, months ago when it was a far-flung fantasy, I imagined the absence of pain being so noticeable and so life-changing that I would immediately break down in tears, or start dancing, or something. But it hasn’t been like that. The better the pain gets, the less I think about it at all. I start thinking about other things, like how beautiful the sunshine is, or how much I love the succulents in our front yard. Only when I look back on my day do I wonder if I perhaps had no headache while I was doing this or that thing. The end of my pain is as quiet and mundane as its beginning was completely life-shattering.
The ironic situation of finally having energy just as the world shuts down for quarantine has left me with a lot of time to think back over this eight-month-long medical adventure. Though it’s not over yet, sharing the funny moments with you has kept me afloat, and I hope it’s made you smile. But I’ve learned a lot of serious lessons, too. There is one in particular I’ve wanted to share with you for a while now, but the right words have eluded me. Coincidentally, or miraculously, depending on your worldview, I skimmed over my journal today to look for some inspiration. And I found more than that- I discovered that I wrote an entire blog post about this topic already, and then forgot about it! So now I get to give my brain a little break and just type out this journal entry. I revised it slightly for clarity, because I remember how tired I was at the time I wrote it. Please enjoy…I hope this gives you strength in what is, for all of us, a very dark time.
22 December 2019
It’s nearly 5 months since everything fell apart. Now I’m 28, and I have multiple gray hairs. I started noticing them last week, though Cory says I’ve had them since the hospital. He is smart and didn’t say this until I noticed them.
One thing I’ve learned from chronic pain, more than anything else, is that I’m no saint. Quite the opposite! Before my migraines and headache attacks started, I had other health problems that slowly escalated into my now severe problems. All that to say, I saw from early on in this journey that the road was going to be long & hard, though I did not know to expect migraines or headache attacks back then. And you know what? I was scared, like absolutely terrified. And I asked God to keep me from the pain. But he didn’t, and I was in a lot of pain shortly after. God seemed to have ignored me.
And that was when, I thought, I’d become a super duper Christian with this unwavering faith in God that withstood barrages of pain, confusion, and loneliness. Or at least one of those sick people who is an inspirational, cheerful superhero that restores everyone’s faith in the resilience of humanity. You know, the people that give you a warm & fuzzy feeling. But I haven’t become anyone like that. In fact, oftentimes I’m so hurt and angered by my pain that I break down crying, or I push away people who I love, like Cory. And it will take a long while to unravel all of the anger and loneliness I dumped onto our marriage. The funny moments I’ve written about are bright spots on what has otherwise been a time of deep darkness in my life. There are parts of it I’ll never want to share, I think.
It feels like a double whammy to not only go through crap in life, but to also handle it so poorly that you are left feeling like an uninspirational idiot. I thought suffering would give me dignity automatically, but it gave me mostly sadness. And I’ve gotten mad at God, often.
How do I tie all of this nicely with a bow for you? How do I make this into a beautiful narrative with a quotable phrase placed elegantly at the end? I can’t, not this time. But I’ll say one thing. In my loneliest and ugliest moments, when my life is anything but proof of a loving God and I’m screaming or crying or rolled up in a ball on my bed, there is one thing I know beyond any doubt: God exists. I don’t know for sure that he is present with me, or that he loves me, or why he’s letting me suffer, or any of that. But the certainty that God exists is always there, like a whispering voice that never stops speaking, even when other voices shout over it for days or weeks on end.
I know for some, this is an entirely unconvincing proof of God. I understand why you’d feel that way, and I won’t try to convince you otherwise. I’ve given up on being inspirational and convincing. But I do find it odd that I still think there is a God, and I find it extremely odd that I think about this the very most when I’m at my very worst. If it were up to me, I’d let the shouting voices take over and just drown in self-pity and sadness from time to time. But the whispering certainty of God seems to have chosen me, in spite of myself.