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Love, Forgiveness and Living with Chronic Pain

by Jodi

Love yourself - accept yourself - forgive yourself - and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things. ~ Leo F. Buscalgia

FLASHBACK POST: Originally Published on March 24, 2016

Last week was supposed to be my turn to post but that didn't happen. Why? Was it because I was working too much (6 ocean crossings and 26 time zones in 9 days) or because I was in too much pain and needed to rest on my layovers more than I needed to write? Nope. Although these two things alone were contributing factors, the truth is I was so darn depressed and frustrated with myself that I chose to hide instead of face the world. 


The Back Story (pun intended)

My back was injured during some clear air (unforecasted and completely unexpected) turbulence we encountered when I was working a flight back in March 2012. I got thrown across the cabin and slammed into a large door handle. Since then I've received 10 steroid spinal injections, 1 incredibly painful discogram and 1 spinal surgery all of which provided only limited periods of pain relief. 


As a result, my life since has vacillated between LOTS of pain and bouts of manageable pain. Along with the physical challenges, I've battled with lots of frustration, depression, helplessness and at the best of times countered those emotions with determination, focus, resolve and optimism. At the worst of times, I've experienced self-hatred, fury, impatience, anxiety and fear.

Giving Up the Fight

There are so many tools available to help manage the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of chronic pain (yoga, meditation, swimming, strength training, massage & wine to name just a few) yet it often feels like a constant battle is raging within me between pain & positivity. The sad fact is - sometimes pain wins. So when I can barely make it through the day and I'm counting the minutes before I can apply another pain patch or take another muscle relaxer, I'll walk away from the fight. It's okay, I think, to just take care of my basic needs and not push any harder at those times. 


After the storm passes, though, I sometimes find it tough to forgive myself for giving up and get angry that I wasn't strong enough to keep fighting. My sadness over lost days of productivity and missed opportunities to enjoy my life leaves me frustrated and not sure where or how to start over. For me, a side effect of the steroid injections is weight gain and at times I feel like the added pounds are an advertisement of my failure to overcome the obstacles in my path so I slide into the trap of comparison. Trying to measure my struggles, actions and outcomes against others fighting their own uphill battle and always feeling like I fall short. 

Taking the Next Step

The truth is - I'm OKAY and so are you. Life is made up of good days and bad days no matter who you are or what's been thrown your way. So know that if pain in your heart or your body (or both) has you trapped in a cycle of self-doubt or self-criticism, it's time to stop wasting your precious energy in that destructive way. FORGIVE yourself, begin again right where you are - TODAY, in this moment and leave the past behind. Whether it happened 5 years ago or 5 minutes ago, it's over and you're worthy enough to move forward no matter how many times you need to start again. 

Namaste means (loosely translated) that the light in me honors the light in you. Whether you're shining bright today or just sporting a dim glow you're still lighting a path in the right direction. Stay the course, my friends. NAMASTE.

 

Update

It's been almost 8 full years since I wrote the post above. Although there's been more surgeries and a few more bad days, there's also been more meditation, forgiveness, joy, acceptance, movement and most importantly more self-love in my life.

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