I recently found an old, crumpled piece of paper that I had written on. As I skimmed over it I remembered jotting the start of a story down one day as I was dealing with chronic pain. Creativity is one of the way that we can both escape, and acknowledge our circumstances. It is a very useful form of therapy.
The snow flurried down all around me, floating more than falling, and occasionally catching in my eyelashes. My eyes were closed, but still I watched in my mind’s eye as the world was transformed. A deep breath drew the icy air into my lungs, frosting my insides soothingly. It had been a long time since I had felt this calm, relaxed, and in control. I did not understand how, in so much pain, I could feel this way. I was considerably less medicated than usual, but the accompanying pain and exhaustion did not ward away my inner peace. It settled over me, much as the snow settled on the ground.
I did not understand it, but I did not need to.
Moments like these meant everything to me. I craved the sharp clarity that filled my mind, or rather emptied it of fog and nonsense. I knew that soon my husband would be back, and I could hardly wait to share time with him unhindered by a mind working in slow motion. Remembering that he would be back soon pushed me back into reality. There was so much that still needed to be done. Usually, I didn’t feel up to doing a lot of work, so things tended to pile up. I took another deep breathe of the winter air, slowly turned, and limped back inside.
Allowing a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darker interior of my home, I inventoried what needed to be done. Out of that I considered what I could reasonably accomplish. I tried not to let it sting as I pondered the fact that although my husband was the one with a full schedule, I was the one constantly running behind. I took the surroundings of our little home. In spite of the clutter it was beautiful to me. It was my refuge.
Laundry was the main offender in keeping things cluttered. No matter how hard I tried there was constantly more of it to be done. With aching arms, I scooped some up to add to our ever towering dirty laundry pile. I knew it was time to run a load, or more, through the washer. I didn’t want to knowledge the pain burning through my fingers and wrists and I made my first attempt to open the laundry machine. I couldn’t bring myself to wait and ask for help opening the door, not again. It took several feeble attempts, but eventually my inflamed limbs won out over the door as it swung ajar.
Unable to grip anything with my already irritated hands, I shuffled the laundry into the machine by awkwardly pinching it between my forearms, mimicking chopsticks. I might have laughed to watch myself if I hadn’t been concentrating so hard on minimizing the pain searing past my elbows. By the time the laundry machine was running I felt both an inflated sense of accomplishment, and a dropping sense of despair.
I had done it, even though I wasn’t sure that I could. How could something so simple, so commonplace, have been so difficult for me? When had I become this withered shell of my old self? I looked around the room, hardly able to see a difference, and crumbled back onto the couch. I would do more. I would get more done. I just needed a moment to close my eyes, and to rest.