Tag Archives: back pain

Happiness is a choice

24 Sep

10:47 am

Good morning. Or, is it?

I woke up to some fierce lower back pain and immediately took 4 Advil. It’s a bummer, knowing that at 39, all I can do is work with the pain and not–maybe never–remove it. It’s weird; I feel handicapped. It makes me sad, angry, and worn out. It is constant, and I feel like I’ve tried everything to fix it. I have, for the most part, given up.

And, this is all before I commence to sit right back down on my ass, spine crunching nerves, and get to work. THIS is what I do; I can’t seem to figure out another way.

Yet, the day is bright, and I have my plans, and I’m not thinking of drinking, and, well: happiness is a choice. I’m not sure why it’s a hard one to make sometimes, and why is should take effort (as in, maybe I’m doing it wrong), but, happiness is a constantly-being-made choice, isn’t it? Happiness is a choice. And, I can do this. If there is one thing I can do now, it’s this. I can usher the bad thoughts out, or sequester them, or filter them out gradually through some deep breaths. I’m still left with the pain, yes, but I can see my choice, facing me, and it is simple: happy or not?

I choose happy. But, mostly, I know now that I GET to choose. How black is that? (SNL reference!)

Who’s up for a boat trip without booze? I am, I am!

4 Feb

10:16 pm

Well, folks, it happened: I made it through an event–said boat trip to a neighboring island with a gang of drinkin’ buddies–with smoking and drinking all around the entire day, did not partake, and felt amazing the entire time! Like, comfortable just being there and not inhaling smoke and not sucking down liquids (other than Diet Coke). Sure, sometimes I felt like the old woman who wears purple, and that sucked a little. Otherwise, I felt great. And grateful.

It wasn’t that hard, for some reason. And, I had a lot of fun! And, from what I could tell (more on this qualifier below), I didn’t feel awkward or weird; in fact, I mostly felt SUPER-grateful to not be hung over. Last year, I went on a boat trip that was nightmarishly hard, mainly because I got belligerent drunk the night before and was SO hung over I wanted to die. That was a year ago, if that gives you any indication of how bad I felt–and therefore, how grateful I was yesterday.

Yes, it was GOOD to be sober, to be clear, to feel none of the sway and sleepy nausea of being drunk in the sun (how do people drink during the day? I never could, actually, without feeling horrible), to know that I wasn’t going to feel any of it the next day. One big, Ahhhhhhhh.

What WAS hard was hearing today at my NSA (network spinal analysis–I got a gift certificate so figured I’d check it out) appointment that my entire spine, from top to bottom, is in fight-or-flight mode. For the most part, that means locked up, and the muscles around the cord, firing constantly (no wonder I have pain and no wonder I’m tired all the time). The way the analyst put it, it’s like walking around with my arms extended the whole day.

I’ve always carried a lot of tension in my back. It’s where I store my emotional “trauma,” as well as how I “hide.” I can’t help some of it–ingrained response of an incurable introvert. For the past oh, 5 months or so, though, it’s been getting noticeably worse. And, its worsening condition seems to coincide precisely with my soberversary. Could it be that the more I’m sober–the more I have to deal with shit instead of escaping from it–the more I’m actually causing my body to tense up and freak out? I think so.

It sucks. It’s made me wonder if drinking wasn’t so bad after all? I mean, we all have past trauma and present anxiety, and it’s HARD to deal with it nonstop. Hard. I don’t get to wipe it away, even for a few hours. And, there is something to a hangover wherein your body just melts, stops resisting. Like, you don’t have the resources to keep your defenses up, so you actually let them down for however long it takes to get over it. There were times when I was CERTAIN that I’d never felt better the next day than after a few shots of tequila and a burger the night before (though, in those days, I hadn’t also drunk two bottles of wine). Seriously.

I wish I could turn it off, but I can’t. And, with the stress of transitions galore, and being sober and having to confront reality every second of every day… Well, I guess I’m going to have to focus on making some of my new coping mechanisms work–meditation, diverting my attention to the bigger picture/positive, etc. That is, until I can see that life isn’t supposed to be all about “getting through” it.

Sigh. What with all this mental and physical, let’s face it, PAIN–sometimes I actually look forward to shedding my physical body. This mortal coil. This pain in my ass that doesn’t seem to know how to BE in this material reality and go with its grain. All my life it’s been this way, fidgeting in my own skin. I’m TIRED of it. I’m OVER it. It doesn’t seem to get easier, it just seems to go in and out, shape-shifting from one form of expression (pain here, addictive behavior there) to another.

Oh, sparkle-toothed unicorn, where art thou?

Anyway, there I go again. Focus on the positive, remember? Coming up on 17 weeks sober this Thursday. 🙂

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