I’ve been sick. I’ve mentioned it a few times because honestly, it has taken me quite by surprise. I don’t get sick very often – at least not in a way that’s worth mentioning and this spell has been a lulu. The migraine I’ve been struggling with may well be the worst I have ever experienced, and I’ve noticed as it persists, how it is impacting my mood.
That sounds silly and obvious right, when I’m in pain it bums me out. But the obviousness of it all doesn’t really penetrate when we think about how many people are in pain all of the time, and how that pain begins to chip away at your sense of who you are, who you can be, what you’re here for. YES, it can get that dark.
To be fair I was not in my best headspace when this bout of crap kicked in, so there’s that as a shitty foundation. But I really think it’s more about the persistence of the pain coupled with the inability to do the things that I want/need to do, like think. It is tremendously frustrating, and this morning my tears were about all of that darkness rather than about the pain.
And so I did something I don’t usually do. I talked about how bad I was feeling on social media. I don’t just mean I talked about my skull splitting headache – I have no problem revealing physical pain. I talked about how I am feeling so poorly in my heart, how being mentally and physically confined has taken a toll on my spirit, my spirit that was on the low side to begin with. I shared all of that and then, gulp, I asked for help. I asked for affirmation. I asked for validation. I just straight up asked people to let me know if I have helped them because I’m just feeling kind of useless and alone. And then I pressed “Post” and almost threw up – not because of the headache, although there’s been a fair amount of that. I almost threw up because I knew I had just stripped naked on social media in a way I don’t usually do.
I share a lot of how I feel, in measured ways, with my beloved words. It’s not like I’ve never let anybody see my pain before. But I’ve never done it spontaneously like that and I’ve never (at least I don’t think) asked you all directly to be part of the solution in such a specific way. I’m pretty sure I’ve never asked anyone to tell me something good about me so I can feel better. Yep, that feels foreign and it was scary as hell.
And right after that moment where I almost threw up my brain punished me. “So what now, you need to ask people to tell you you’re good so you can feel okay? Nice, good work. Way to show off your mental health.” There’s more. I have a gifted bitch in there. She’s just as good with words as I am and nowhere near as careful before she hits “Post.” My inner critic explored all of the possible ways that my vulnerable stance could come back to bite me in my flat little ass.
I could be ignored and would then have to deal with feeling even worse. I could be SEEN, which is obviously worse. I could be SEEN and cringed at. I could be SEEN and thought to be cracking up, losing it, coming completely unglued – also therefore obviously not someone to turn to in times of trouble. There’s more here, but I think you get the point. My inner critic came up with lots of ways that this was a huge mistake.
So I got in the shower. It was what I had planned to do anyway to try to just make my body feel better even if my head and my headspace would not comply. And when I got out of the shower, know what I found?
I found responses. I found kindness. I found validation, affirmation, and people reaching out to lift me up when I’m feeling low. The cringers, if there were any, kept quiet. And everyone else saw it all for what it was: a friend having a really bad day, well a series of really bad days, who needed a little support. And wow what amazing support was delivered.
I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. And I am so grateful to be learning to be vulnerable in the tough times so that I can feel that connection, so that I can let people in even when it’s hard, so that I can love and be loved, right there on the inter- webs.