Saturday, March 17, 2018

Where Pain Has Left Me

Today I was talking to my sister-in-law, Carrie, about my physical pain. I have spent the last 7 days in bed, with the exception of a trip to the ER and a trip to the doctor a few days after that.

I have been dealing with physical pain now for 14 years. Yes. Fourteen. It's not just some mild ache. Most of the time, it's brutal. It's no longer a case where I have good days and bad days. This past year, it is more realistic to say that I have some bad days, some really, really bad days, and then every now and again, I have a day where the pain isn't the first thing on my mind-it's an "ok" day. There are rare moments where the pain is less horrible than all the other days. Days where every thought, every decision, every step is not overshadowed completely by pain.

I am in pain when I wake up. I am in pain all day. I am in pain when I go to bed. I am in pain all night. What a lot of people see on the outside is a mask. It's a way to cope. I don't always look like a person who is constantly reminded that her physical body is worn down and deteriorating at a rapid rate. I can pretend and put on that facade like the rest of the world. The one that most days says everything is great! Or, at the very least, the one that doesn't show I feel a lot worse inside than I look on the outside.

Do you know what degenerative disc disease is? It's basically a fancy way to say arthritis. But the way it works is the discs in your spine (which will wear down with age naturally over your lifetime), begin to do so at a rapid rate, and by the time it's fully encroached on your spine, you are 39 with the arthritic body of someone in their 80s. At least, that has been my experience. The old people shuffling about through life, just trying to make it to the next place to rest their weary bones - that's me. That's my life.

After a neck surgery in 2013, then another in 2014, it's possible I am now looking at surgery #3-if the surgeon thinks the numbness I get from the elbows down now warrants it. Or, I will look into having a neuro-stimulator implanted. This would send electronic pulses to basically disrupt or interrupt the pain signals to the brain. It might help. It might not. There's no guarantee of anything.

I want to be real. I don't consider myself a strong woman, in general. I have lived through a lot. I have overcome a lot. I have been open about my adultery, trauma I have experienced, living with addiction (my own and others'), depression and anxiety, wanting to die and yet managing to hold on for one more day. So I know I can sometimes seem strong in spite of it all. But the reality is, I am not. I'm about as weak as I could be, physically and emotionally.

The conversation I was having with Carrie today brought some real feelings to my mind that I have been trying to suppress and not face-though until today, I couldn't really put my finger on what was happening.

What kind of mother am I? My kids do everything around the house. Simple things like laundry and dishes have never been my strong suit (actually doing them), and I want my kids to have responsibility and know how to take care of themselves. But not like this. The other night I did the dishes for Abbey-it took me about an hour because it was behind and there were several large pans as well - and for the next hour, I couldn't move and I could not feel my arms at all. And that was just how my arms felt-not my neck and back-which were not in good shape.

When the kids' friends come over and the house is a mess, because let's be honest-no one cleans it as good as I could and they don't keep up with it nearly as often as they should - do they judge us? Do they see me just sitting around, and think wow sh'es fat and lazy? Do they judge my kids and think less of them, because I am incapable of doing small things like pick trash up off the floor that the dog has shredded?

When my kids have children, will I physically be able to hold them? Will I be able to sit through school functions or things like their graduations and weddings and do things that I feel like all the other good moms do?

I want to feel like going out and doing active things with my husband. I want to be spontaneous and not have to plan whether or not we are intimate around how I feel at the end of the day. I want someone for him who deserves him. I want him to have someone who is worthy of the amazing man he is. I want to feel attractive. Not just like some overweight lazy woman who can barely get around some days.

I want to walk and be active for myself and get some of the weight off, which I know will ultimately be better for the pain overall. I want to be able to be present at my job and not always have the pain there as a reminder that at any moment, I may have to quit working permanently.

When I was texting these things to my sister in law, and speaking them out loud because I literally can't text like a normal person without my arms going numb most of the time, I found myself choking over the tears.

Because I was finally speaking what I've really been wrestling with. It's not the pain. The pain I can deal with. I think I have done a damn good job of it most of the time these last 14 years. What I struggle with, and what we have been talking about are the lies that the devil tells us.

I have been trying to encourage her in identifying the lies the devil whispers so that we can hear the truth. This was a lesson God began teaching me 6 years ago. Not everything you hear in your mind is from you, or truth. You have to learn what's real and what is an attack by a very real enemy who wants to see you fail at life.

But until I spoke my fears aloud today, I did not realize that I had been fully invested in these lies again myself. Everything I mentioned above, the fears, the feeling of failure, of not being desirable to my husband - these are all things that the devil wants me to think and feel. And I have fallen into the trap and let these lies consume me and define me, especially lately. Sitting around literally doing nothings gives you a lot of time to think.

Because guess what happens when I think about those and allow my mind to indulge in that kind of thinking? He wins. I give the devil a foothold in my life and my heart. I let him win. I let my pain control my life - instead of surrendering (there's that word again) to God.

And I've been feeling really distant from God lately. Not because he's pulled away--I know that I have been at arm's length. And I couldn't really pinpoint it. I love God. I appreciate all he has done for me - so much that I don't deserve. And yet...I've felt distance growing. Until I spoke aloud to Google so it could translate my thoughts to text.

In that moment, I heard it. I heard the lies. Clear as day, I heard what I had been believing. I have been so miserable physically that I have given into that defeated line of thinking. Once again believing that I am not good enough. For anyone or anything. That I am useless and will never been enough.

I was telling Carrie how I have accepted that this pain will always be a part of my life. I don't expect some grand miracle or cure for what's wrong with my spine. And it isn't because I lack faith in God. I believe 100% that God COULD heal my body. If he wanted to. If he thought that it would be the best outcome.

But like Paul and whatever the thorn in his side was, I have a thorn in my side. Because without it, I wouldn't be sitting here in tears, realizing how totally desperate I am to hear God tell me that he's got this, that he loves me, that he has a plan for my life, that there is purpose in this pain.

If the only thing that comes from this life of pain is that I refocus on Him and realize that my weakness leads me to His feet, then that is enough. I've spent the last week zoning out watching hours of TV to distract myself from the physical pain, and the emotional toll believing these lies has taken on my heart.

Do you know what Paul said about his weakness? About the thorn in his side? This is what I want to believe and declare. I want to take back the thing I can control-which is whether or not I believe the lies I have been hearing and giving into.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

1 comment:

  1. Father Your daughter once again has shared from her heart an area she is struggling Jesus name I'm asking You for a healing touch for her physical body... Father she recognizes she was listening to the lies of the enemy and her hearts desire is to honor and glorify You... Father the pain in her physical body at times is over whelming.... give her the grace to face these times with Your peace and fill her with Your strength.... give the doctors wisdom as they look into ways to give Your daughter relief.... give Kris an overflowing portion of grace as he tries to give comfort to his sweetheart.....Fat Father wrap Your loving arms around this family and pour out Your grace and mercy over them....may Your name be honored through this family in Jesus name Amen