Photo by Lua Valentia on Unsplash
Last week, I was in A LOT of pain. Physical pain, emotional upheaval, mental turmoil. It was rough. And as hard as it is to admit, I made it so much worse than necessary. Let me explain…
A couple weeks ago, I was having a FaceTime conversation with a friend who lives in New York, during which she mentioned she was on her period. I was shocked! There she was, sitting upright in a public space, with lipstick and jewelry on, looking fabulous, having a serious 2-hour conversation with me…and during all of that she had her period?!?!
This might not sound like a big deal to you, but I don’t remember what it’s like to be remotely functional while bleeding. You see, I have a condition called Adenomyosis. Look it up and you’ll read all the gory details of what it’s like. But basically, for the past four years my periods have been debilitating, with intense pain and super heavy bleeding that make it almost impossible for me to leave the house during that time.
Through a strict diet and serious lifestyle changes, I’ve made vast strides. I have it down to 2 pajama days per month (sometimes just one!), and during that time, I can get by on one dose of advil to manage the pain. This is fairly monumental as advil used to do absolutely nothing. I can work with my clients over the phone when I can’t see them in person, and also have great energy during the rest of month, where I used to feel wiped out for much of the time. So, pretty major.
But last week was hellish. The pain was excruciating, and it lasted for 4 days straight. My energy was nonexistent for 6 days. I was sobbing in despair, feeling trapped, feeling like an invalid, feeling like a burden, feeling like a failure, feeling hopeless and exhausted.
And here’s the thing, the physical pain was enough to contend with on its own. Yet, I made it so much more intense with my RESISTANCE. I’m not talking the good kind of resistance, as in #resist the patriarchy, racism, sexism, greed, etc. I’m talking about when you’re fighting tooth and nail with what’s being asked of you. This is what generally creates the misery that goes along with pain.
This condition has made certain special requirements of me. It has made my body extremely sensitive to inflammation and hormone disruption. Therefore I’m being asked to avoid dairy, gluten, red meat, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. So, I do, most of the time.
Yet, I find ways to break the rules. Such as traveling, and that’s what I did at the beginning of September. I was away for two weeks and I told myself: you can do whatever you want! Just let loose and have fun.
Letting loose for me meant having a few cups of black tea, some hefty Trinidadian rotis, sandwiches, cheap Chinese food and dessert here and there over the course of my two weeks away. Yet this was enough to send my body into turmoil. Because, like it or not, I have special requirements.
So, that was the first layer of resistance. Resisting the special needs of my body. And why? Well, partially because I wanted to enjoy some yummy things. But also, because I don’t want to be an inconvenience. I don’t want to be “that person.”
Oh, here comes LA girl, get rid of the gluten and dairy! If people feel that way though, it’s not my problem! I’m the one that has to deal with the consequences of trying not to ruffle any feathers or roll any eyes, and it’s just not worth it.
Side note: Being a nondrinker in a society where SO MUCH socializing is centered around drinking is fascinating. But that’s a topic for another article.
The second layer of resistance came when the pain hit. Actually, it came even before that when my energy started to drop and I felt like my brain was made of fog and I was lost in a swamp. Then the pain started, and I was doubled over and tormented. Why is this happening?? Why is it still so bad after all this time? Why me???
And in the midst of that, still deluding myself into thinking I could be productive. And then feeling bad when I wasn’t! And feeling guilty for taking so much Advil! Ugh! I just couldn’t win.
The kind thing to do, if I listened to what was being asked of me, was to totally surrender. Allow the pain, rest, nurture myself, do whatever I needed to soothe and comfort. Instead I chose torture on top of torture, and the suffering was real.
Why am I sharing all this with you? Because I think resistance to pain is so common. We make life’s challenges so much worse by battling against them, questioning them, avoiding them, or pretending they’re not really happening. These forms of resistance are detrimental to your wellbeing, to your progress, to your ability to fully embrace and experience life!
If you’re in pain right now, I send you blessings, I’m with you, I know it sucks. And, I invite you to take a moment to ask yourself where are you fighting what wants to be seen and heard? How can you lay down your arms against yourself, against life, and allow for what needs to happen, or shift, or be overcome? Release your attachment to what you think your life is supposed to look like, or what you think life owes you. Instead, try acceptance of what is, and then ask, “What is the gift here? How can I make this better?”
The answer might not be immediate or obvious. But the search for it is far more loving and uplifting than “Why me?”
The good news is, I accepted the torment. I accepted my own struggle and I had some HUGELY massive insights over the course of last week as a result. And I did something that is so hard for me. I reached out to a friend and said, “I’m having a really hard time.” Like an angel, she made space for me and listened, and soothed me with her voice while I cried. It was such a beautiful and loving experience.
Remember, love is all around you. And even in your darkest hour, there is beauty and grace available…if you allow it.
Wishing You Peace & Blessings,
P.S. I so appreciate your concern and desire to help. I kindly ask that you refrain from making suggestions on how to treat my condition unless you’ve had personal direct experience with healing this or a similar menstrual disease (such as endometriosis).