“PAIN is a necessary thing.” Took me a long time to see that. A very long time and even now I can only understand the edges of this koan. It’s big and ugly and will require many hours of thought and process. Probably at 3am when I’m in pain and praying to anyone and anything on God’s green earth to make it stop. Yeah, PAIN is a necessary thing is challenging to accept when you’re writhing on the floor like Michelle Pfeifer in the Witches of Eastwick and I STILL fast forward through that part of the movie. Yuck. 

“The only constant is change,” is another koan I had trouble with for years, preferring the buoy and false certainty marriage, a steady paycheck, a house in the suburbs, and a fuel-efficient car could provide. When the falseness slammed home on all of that in my brain? Phenomenal. I’d spent months turning over the concept like a hot potato before finally popping it in my mouth. That was always my favorite Laura Ingalls food writing anyway. Have you read her through that perspective? Lady knew her food porn and it still holds up. Lucky Almanzo. Damn, that’s a great name for a dog.

I digress as I usually do when PAIN makes a visit which he has for the first time since February. True PAIN. The everlasting kind which lasts for days until you’re so wore out you beg for death. I’m dramatic. But last night I begged for death even as I knew the spasming would subside here soon. It always does. Storms always die and winds calm down and stormy seas pass. The best days at the beach are after storms and we just had one so I fucking know darling.

Sitting in a car right now is akin to Little Shop of Horrors, so I’ll just lay here waiting for PAIN to fucking leave. It makes me kinda cranky as it would anyone and processing it to the outside of my body always, ALWAYS feels like The Exorcist. Like I need a minister, a preacher, a cardinal and at least a dozen saints. Lots of profanity and I’m sure my neighbors are worried for themselves and grabbing the garlic. But something about getting all loud My Big Fat Greek Wedding feels really good at the height of things when the spasms occurring every 3 minutes are especially exquisite. Giant carving knives cutting stabbing and making sure your every waking moment is excruciating. PAIN is a bitch, a long, hard, process which feels like birth, death, and a generous sprinkling of American Werewolf in London. All at once. 

That was hard to read. Hard to write. Even harder to get through and each time I hope it’s the last time and I know it isn’t. Millions of people endure PAIN every day, physical, mental, emotional, imaginary. This is just one PAIN. It’s mine.  My PAIN which is black as obsidian with electric orange glimmers of light all through it like Valerian steel. A giant blade of rock slicing, dicing, embedding itself into the place under my left scapula where the seat belt fit all those years ago.

The thing which saved me is the thing I hate the most in life. The thing which brings this ugly, selfish, loud, obnoxious, asshole visitor PAIN who always stays past the three-day mark, way past his welcome. Not that he’s ever welcome, more a cautionary tale, a warning, a finger upside the nose before you slide up the chimney to jet to the North Pole for another year. I’ve got my eye on you. I’ll be back. Scary demon grim reaper Santa Claus and the only present he leaves is this shitty shard of hurty coal.

PAIN stays too long. First day stabby, next day jabby, then if you’re lucky, third day dull ache, fourth day ache, then 5-7 days of just pure fucking exhaustion. PAIN is never in any rush. He arrives in a blowhard storm which sends me to my knees and only leaves when he’s completely decimated everything, my house, my body, my faith. Like a marauding, raping soldier he looks around the room once more, grabs another piece of pie and saunters out wiping his mouth. His nonchalant demonic lingering is only a reminder that soon, very soon, with his crooking cartoon smoke finger he will beckon me back to the bed once again. Like the worst narrative villain I will be forced by PAIN once again to live out this Victorian bedroom drama of suffering. A drama which becomes my entire life for a week and which always feels like birth bless my heart.

Every episode I don’t think I will last it. Every episode I somehow do. There’s a lesson there.

Birth, death, and pain. Our cycles of life. They last a LONG TIME. Change can be quick or slow but these three? Much longer than an hour-long television drama, although the men in charge who’ve written that bullshit would have you believe these spiritual acts are hearts, flowers and many many gifts and cards and gift cards from Target and did you register? There’s no Cancer Victim Registry, but mark my words they’re in boardrooms now trying to figure it out.

I never gave birth but my fibroid embolization was an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone and there was no bouncing baby after. My neck is my baby,  PAIN is her twin. The thing I caretake and care for and my journey. My problem child and also the rock I use to get me down the river. If there were no rocks we’d all be floating in stasis in a still pool of nothing. We need the rapids that pain gives. I just wish it didn’t hurt so fucking much.

This helped today. Writing helps, so does mixing. Distractions beyond the weed pipe or the Jameson bottle. Another certainty which finally hit home when I had to relearn it recently. That’s the thing about lessons, they’re never over. There’s always a pop quiz when you don’t expect it. You’re an adult, you can choose to study for it. Or not. I love you. Handle your shit.

If you have pain of any kind, ANY kind going on in your life, I hope the storm subsides soon. Ride the crest of that wave and enjoy, NOTICE how it feels when you feel the letting go. I love you. Go handle your shit.