I’ve been looking forward to this post for almost a week. I haven’t written about my chronic pain in awhile namely because I’ve done a lot of healing and also because I’m growing past sharing about it publicly.
The first time I wrote about my chronic pain (This Is Vulnerable), I found freedom from the self-inflicted silence & “bravery” that I had forced myself into. Opening up about my weakness was the first step to admit how broken I really was. Leading up to that post, I thought I was very good at hiding the pain, acting “brave” despite migraines, and pushing my body beyond its limits.
In short, I was a mess.
Sharing publicly about my chronic pain helped me take giant steps forward. Sometimes, I let it swallow me. Sometimes, I indulged in self-pity. Sometimes, the discouragement was abandoned for God’s comfort & strength. There was victory and defeat.
Shortly before my long-awaited surgery, I knew it was time for me to step out of this valley of chronic pain. I was ready to move forward. I felt like it was time for me to truly live beyond the dominant struggle I had had for 5 years. I was ready to leave it behind, accept the pain, heal where I could, and move forward.
In the last year and a half, chronic pain has not been the first thoughts of my day! Headaches are still common, but they are not how I define my life. I still get very bad migraines, but I am rarely discouraged during them, and I don’t focus on them often.
It took me years, but I finally let go of all the pain I’d let control me for so long. In the deepest parts of the struggle it was hard for me to believe that healing would ever happen, so that made me sink a little farther down in despair.
After surgery, I took steps forward and backward as my body slowly healed. Getting married only added to the healing process! Marriage is a balm for many wounds, and I do believe I leaped forward as a result. In the months after surgery, I could feel the healing happening & it was exciting to me. Since I’d decided before surgery that I was going to move forward, I was more open to learning how to manage my pain!
I saw a therapist who helped realign my neck, release built up strain, and taught me a lot about body tension and what I could do to help myself. Since I’d accepted my chronic pain, I was ready to do something about it!
I did some of the exercises that helped release tension, identified when I just needed to stretch, drink water, take walks, or lie down. I began to accurately identify the problem and do something to help it. I’m not into the oil world like some people, but I do use them to help my body relax. Aromatherapy has helped me quite a lot! I also use heat, take steamy showers, use ibuprofen when needed, sleep on one pillow not two, get up & stretch in the early morning if I have to, and do strength building exercises.
Above all I have purposed not to stress about the pain that will long be a part of my life.
I really began to see a change when I was accepting of my pain and open to healing. It sounds weird, I know! But I’m telling you that I had to mentally choose to move forward, before I could really move forward physically.
I have experienced so much healing in the last year and a half. I wake up mornings without bad headaches, and I can go an entire day without thinking about my present pain or my past dark years of pain. I’ve let go of the valley, because I was finally able to. I let go of the pain, because to hold onto it any longer would not be my honest struggle, but rather my obsession.
I haven’t talked about chronic pain recently, because I don’t feel like it’s necessary to share anymore. It’s not a major part of my life and it is no longer something I’m crying over, working through, or struggling in.
I’m managing the pain well and am more than accepting of this part of my life. I’m moving forward & moving freely. The more I emotionally separate from my pain, the more I see how many others are struggling with pain all their own. The more I see, the less important my pain becomes. I have so many opportunities to look at people and care for their needs since I’ve had so much experience in my own!
I needed to be waist deep in the darkness of the chronic pain valley. I needed to experience the uncertainty of life. And I needed to meet and work through the discouragement that came my way.
I needed these things not because it made me a stronger, more capable woman. I needed these things not so I could be the center of attention and love.
Rather, I needed these things because it brought me to the end of myself and drew me nearer to God.
And that’s so desperately what I needed a handful of years ago. I was full of pride, self-sufficiency, and insensitivity to others. This chronic pain chipped off every single last bit of my self-proclaimed confidence and left me with nothing.
The nothing that brought me closer to God.
Although, it is not chronic pain that is chipping away at my heart these days, I’m definitely being chipped and sculpted into the woman I should be. I have found abundant grace and love in God. While I know I could have handled my chronic pain better than I did, I cannot wallow in or regret the journey so far. It has shown me who I am and how much I need Christ!
I am ever so much closer to God than I was before, and this thrills my soul!
I move forward in joy. Joy that most of the darkness is past. Joy that I am not as insensitive to to others as I used to be. Joy because I’m no longer acting as a self-sufficient fool. Joy because my worth in Christ has never changed! JOY because this is my life.
I’ll never be perfect, so I don’t sink low in the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s of chronic pain. I get to rise up in God’s strength, God’s grace, and God’s love for me.
I urge you to not be discouraged when you look back and see how weakly you dealt with a struggle. It brought you nearer to God, made you more of the woman God desires you to be, and awakens your heart to love others more strongly than ever.
Let it encourage you.
Don’t let it sink you.