Pain & Simplicity

     I was thinking recently about how incredibly simple but also painful my life can be and at first that may seem boring, like a bad thing. But the truth is, to me, it’s a beautiful life. My life is generally uneventful (other than the somewhat frequent family drama) and I have never been one to hit up the bars or clubs or have lots of friends and attend big parties every weekend, although I see nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me. Even in college, I would just go to class, some volunteer events and things like that, and then come home. I used to be embarrassed to tell people I just met when they ask me what I do for fun. “I read self-help books all day long” probably isn’t most people’s idea of a thrill but to me it’s one of the biggest.

My idea of fun is cafes with friends and movies with family and some other things too.

      Right now, I have a job at a store and am planning on applying for more counseling jobs. I have been criticized by people, especially my family, for “doing nothing” with my life. But that is their idea of “nothing”, not mine. And as long as I’m happy and not hurting or interfering with others that’s all that matters, not what other people think. They live how they choose and I’ll live how I choose. That’s the way it should be.

      The truth is, it is possible to be happy with a simple, uneventful, and even a very painful life. But we have to cut back on the comparisons. I used to frequently compare myself and my life to others my age usually. I criticized myself for not being interested in certain things that other people were interested in. I criticized myself for being “too simple”. But now I see the beauty in that. We should all live how we want and let others live how they want to live, not compare in any way. It’s not good to destructively criticize ourselves for not being like others but it’s also not good to act like we are better and other people are lower. We are all different but no one is better.

      Recently my facial pain disorder has become more severe and developed on the other side of my face as well. It used to be usually only on the left. Now I have it on the left and the right. I am in pain more often than not. Often it’s mild pain that I am so used to it’s just there in the background the way a chair is against my body or clothes are on my body that I don’t even think of much until something brings my attention to it, or is moderate pain or bordering on moderate with recurrent severe and seemingly unbearable flare-ups. Sometimes the severe pain comes on suddenly without warning. But I have learned to cope with it better. I used to scream uncontrollably during severe flare-ups. I would scream loudly until I would lose my voice. My mom used to scold me for screaming through the night, saying people would think I was being murdered. But I couldn’t help it. I used to writhe in agony and squeeze the bars on my bed or collapse with my face in my hands and just shake for hours in unspeakable, unfathomable pain that I felt was destroying me. Or I would pace constantly all night long until the sun would come up. The facial pain disorder also affects my ears. Think about the absolute worst toothache or any ache you have ever experienced in your life, multiply it by millions and imagine it all over your face, jaw, ears, head, neck, and shoulders and you may come close to understanding what many, many days/nights are like for me. After a severe flare-up ends I am worn out, exhausted, and in shock for a few days after because of the shock and immensity of it and it takes a while to start feeling like and being myself again. But I have learned to cope. And to eliminate or reduce the pain sometimes.

      But even with this, I still have a beautiful, wonderful life of joy & beauty. I have also unintentionally developed this wonderful, positive habit of associating my pain with feeling blessed and thinking of joyous things. One coping mechanism of mine is focusing on the joy of life even through the pain as opposed to focusing only on or mainly on the pain. One night recently I was laying in my bed at night when suddenly I felt this shooting, stabbing pain sear through my face, jaw, and ear but instantly I thought of pleasant things like the stars outside my window that I can see through the bare tree branches. Often when the pain culminates to an unbearable level, now I automatically think of something good even if that good thing is in no way connected to the pain.

      I have got into the habit of making the pain remind me of something good.

      Facial massages, walking, stretches…all that helps reduce it or just helps me handle it better.

      Another thing is cultivating and maintaining an attitude of gratitude. 

Thinking about and listing things to be thankful for helps not only presently taking the mind off of the pain and onto pleasant things but gets us in the habit of looking for positive and beautiful things in general.

      Here are some tips for gratitude journaling:

 

1.) Keep the gratitude journal ONLY for pleasant things. You can have other journals for other things but designate one just for gratitude lists.

 

2.). When you write what you’re grateful for, consciously meditate upon it. Savor the feeling, feel it with your body. Let it inspire you and fill you with awe. Be consciously aware. Not robotic and lifeless. 

 

3.). Make this experience fun and positive and don’t see making the gratitude lists as boring or obligatory or as a hassle. Get in the habit of enjoying it! 😀

 

4.) Make the list as long or as short as you want or need.

 

5.). Mix it up, you can list everyday routine things you are thankful for in general or things that happened that day that do not happen everyday.

 

6.) It’s ok to list the same things sometimes on different days.

 

7.) Carry the journal around with you if you can so you can write things right away that fill you with gratitude.

 

8.) You can even write how those positive things make you feel or how you felt when certain things happened.

 

9.) You can also decorate your journal and the pages. Glue on pictures…

 

10.). Make this a habit. But it may take a while to form and for it to feel natural. After about three weeks it will probably start to feel more regular.

 

11.) Make the lists even on boring or “bad” days when it seems nothing good has happened. Make them especially on these days when you need some inspiration.

 

So even though my life can be very painful, it’s still great. And I love the simplicity of it. And I will not let my pain or my physical disability limit me in other ways or destroy me any longer.  

 

 We don’t need big things to happen every single day and we don’t need an absolutely painless life to love it. ❤

 

I hope this post helps some people.

 

X0xo Kim. ❤ 🙂 😀Image

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