So much of what has been ruling my world lately is a huge shift in thinking. Rather than feeling negative about my future, for the first time since developing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, I actually feel positive about what I can do with my life! It’s a grey and drizzling day outside, negative thoughts would love to overtake my brain and make problems seem gigantic in comparison to their reality.
I need to run an errand today, nothing exciting or difficult, but I am still overcoming the part of chronically ill me that believes everything is difficult. That’s not an irrational conclusion, for many years everything has been difficult! Merely waking up is an effort when living with chronic pain. What I am discovering is that through a lot of little changes, it’s possible to turn the difficult back into manageable parts of life again. Things might be difficult but that doesn’t make them impossible.
A huge part of achieving this is living in the moment. You’ve probably heard those words before, perhaps your wank wank alarm is going off? I know that once upon a time, mine would have. Life has forced me down a different path to the one that I expected to follow and in order to cope with the struggles that I’ve encountered I have had to revisit, re-evaluate and attempt to understand living in the moment from a perspective that can help to enrich my life.
For me, living in the moment is about dealing with what is now, now. It’s easy to worry, it’s easy to create catastrophic future conclusions for events that are happening now. This particular practise can be hugely limiting to the chronic pain patient; without a straight or confirmed path to recovery, the future can just look like a downward slope that takes a lot of painful drops and eventually ends in death. If I don’t let go of that mode of thinking, then I can expect to enjoy anything.
Deep inside, down below any periods of depression, I have always held a kind of vague belief that one day, somehow, everything in my life will turn out OK.
Of course, I’m still dealing with constant pain of fluctuating levels and a lot of unpredictability in my life. Keeping optimism can get difficult, but it’s already making a difference in my life and I am excited about how much everything seems rosier just as soon as I decide to view it like that. Committing to such a decision often involves a leap of faith, because as positive as I would like to feel, I still have to deal with current and arising conflicting emotions.
A leap of faith isn’t something that I had ever envisioned myself taking. I’m not religious and I guess that such a term is usually about keeping faith in a higher power; in a god or gods. The faith that I harbour is in myself and possibility. Faith in oneself is a concept often discussed in terms of self empowerment, however it’s strange to realise that one can have faith in possibility.
Possibility is endless; it’s perhaps the only thing in this world that can truly claim that.
Possibility contains a future where I have overcome my chronic pain, a future where I am feeling happy, feeling useful and impacting positively on those around me. Possibility is the beginning of everything. Sure, it’s not going to magically heal me or improve anything all on its own, but it allows me to keep searching, keep trialling therapies and keep uncovering ways in which I can instigate healing and happiness. Possibility gives me back the control that a permanent diagnoses of pain stole from my life.
I don’t have to accept this pain and condition as forever. Remarkably, it’s possible to both accept that that might be so and also believe that I can make it different. It’s possible for both parallel and paradoxical thinking to run concurrently in the same mind. Seeing things from only one perspective at a time is not a real limit, it’s just one that many people impose upon themselves. Things are so rarely black and white; it’s liberating to be able to see black, see white and see grey without feeling like the existence of one must exclude the others.
This post started because the rainy day was getting me down. The aches and pains are as frustratingly present as always and I have to devote a lot of time to pain management because I have no other option. When I start to feel down, I try to find things that inspire me. I try to remember why I was able to feel so grateful on a particular day and so hindered on another, when the surrounding factors have hardly changed. Sometimes just the distraction of pondering this difference is enough to get me into a better state of mind.
It’s not been too hard to turn my mood around today – I have tickets to see Eddie Vedder play solo tonight and there aren’t enough exclamation marks in the world to express my excitement about that.
Oddly, the rain now sounds lovely to me.
Love & Perspective,