When It Feels Like the Clouds Will Never Part
I’ve had headaches and eventually, officially migraines for almost as long as I can remember. This comes as a surprise to a lot of people because I have tried SO incredibly hard to not let these migraines define me and my life and I kind of hate focusing on them when I can avoid it because I feel like they have stolen too much of my time already… but sometimes I feel compelled to share with others who struggle, not just with migraines, but just with life in general, because my migraines have taught me so much.
The Sun Always Shines
When I’m going through a long bout of migraines — I remember one particularly bad one in Taiwan that went on endlessly for 2 weeks — it often feels like a dark, ominous, thick cover of clouds has come over my life and blocked any light or warmth from the sun. It is dark and lonely and painful and depressing and each time I struggle to not be swallowed by the experience and become consumed by misery and fear — but the thing with experience is just that, once you experience something once you’re just a tiny bit more prepared to experience it a second time. And when you’ve experienced it a hundred or a thousand times that’s quite a bit of experience beneath your belt. What I’ve learned is that even if I can’t see or feel the sun shining it is still there. The clouds will part — even if just for a moment to let a tiny sliver of light creep through.
Dealing with any chronic condition or illness is downright exhausting. It can feel almost impossible to relax and enjoy anything and sometimes all that pain and waiting for the clouds to part makes us hold our breath waiting on that warm, warm sliver of light to fill our lungs with sweet breath. But we’re not dead. We need that breath. We can’t wait for it. The circumstances or experience are just consuming so much of our energy that we’re forgetting to breathe. Once we can learn to deprive the pain of our attention for just a split second and focus on breathing something magical happens. We emerge for a second from drowning in our experience and gasp a huge mouthful of fresh air and suddenly our lungs, our heart, our brain, our muscles — our whole body can endure just a little bit easier.
There Is Evidence Of the Sun Everywhere
Chronic pain can seem consuming — and it definitely can be, but even in a dark, gray world covered in clouds there is evidence that the sun is still shining. When I have a migraine I feel my most weak, my most grumpy, my most vulnerable, my most dependent, and my least powerful and capable. It’s a horrible way to feel, but when I can focus on the fact that I know from experience that the sun will return I’m able to force myself to look around and find the evidence that supports my assurance that the light and warmth of the sun will return. It’s harder to see the goodness and evidence of the sun in the dark but if we look closely we will find both.
Choose Your Own Fate
I never, ever want to sound insensitive to the pain, suffering, and circumstances of anyone else and can only speak for what I have learned from my own experience and what I believe to be helpful. I’ve been in the boat of having people dismiss and downplay my migraines and it stings and I never want to be that person. For me, though, there is power in choosing. Power in choosing how I respond to the circumstances I’m given. When I was pregnant with Crew I had a migraine every day for six months straight. I would go to bed in pain, sleep horribly, and wake up in pain and endure each day in pain. Zoe was less than 6 months old when I got pregnant with him. The experience was so brutally painful that I think I would have committed suicide if I didn’t have that little baby girl depending on me. So, when your life is dark and lonely and gray find the choices and purpose. When it feels like you have no control reclaim your power. There may be one or a few huge, monstrous things in your life casting a shadow over everything making it feel like you have no choices to make, but I promise you, though they may seem impossible to find, if you keep looking you will find them.
So, if your life is feeling dark, and lonely and gray, and it has for a while now — a day, a week, a month, years even, don’t despair. The sun is still there. The clouds will part and you’ll remember how beautifully wonderful the sun feels on your face and your lungs will fill effortlessly with the sweet grace of it all.