"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

I haven’t posted in a very long while, and I feel this may be one of my last posts (or my posts will continue to be as intermittent as this). But I have realised something recently that I thought was important to share.


This year has probably been the happiest of my life; and I mean that in the way that I have just been happy within myself and about my life a lot of the time. I haven’t felt this way in a long time, if ever. I used to struggle with letting myself be happy, probably because there was (is) always something to worry about, something to stress about, and I spent a lot of my time blocking out bad emotions about my pain, about my inability to dance, etc. And when you try to block out one emotion, usually you end up blocking out most emotions. It’s almost impossible to be specific and selective. So I became flat, or ‘dulled’.


This year I have started dancing again, and that has opened back up that world that I love with my whole heart. I re-kindled my love of musicals, singing and acting all as well - the world of the performing arts. Over the 5 years I hadn’t been able to dance I shut myself off from that world, because to be honest not being able to dance broke my heart and caused more pain than I knew could be felt, and it was the only way I could deal with it.  Opening myself up into that world again, I am surprised that I still love it just as much as I did before this crazy journey 5 years ago, if anything I love it more today because I know what it is like to live without it. I am surprised and happy to find out that it wasn’t just a phase I went through - wanting a career in the performing arts - but a passion that has survived 5 years of suppression, only to come out the other side stronger than before. I think that played a big part in my happiness this year.


I’d also have to credit a lot of my happiness this year to my best friends; I have never had friendships like this before and couldn’t imagine my life without them. We connect and understand each other on such a deep level, and are constantly laughing when we are together, always knowing what to say to each other. And of course my loving family who always are a source of happiness for me. I think this year I’ve come to appreciate them more.


BUT anyway, back to the main point of writing this.


Over the last few days I’ve had conversations with my parents and my boyfriend about where I’m at (just to keep on the same page), and I know it makes them sad that I still have pain and things to deal with that others don’t. But that is life, and I have the attitude that I don’t want to live a life that represents how I feel a lot of the time, because I would never do anything. So I choose to live the way I do, I’m not saying I push through enormous amounts of pain every day; I have off days when I have flare ups or migraines, but I chose to live my life despite the other things that go on (which is relatively to other people rather a lot – mainly varying mild-moderate pains). I was trying to think and explain how I can do this, when I realised some thing really significant.


I realised that, this year something has gradually changed within me. I have been so happy, despite having a lot of extra things go on this year (continuing headaches & migraines, being diagnosed with exercise induced asthma, being sick for 10 weeks with multiple viruses and pneumonia, a weird new bone growth in my knee… I could go on but we don’t have the time.. haha) But that doesn’t seem to match up with the fact that I have been so happy probably 70-80% of the time, especially in the last few months.


I think that it is because now, I am not affected by my pains the same way before. And I mean that emotionally. My coping strategy has changed; flipped in fact. Previously, my coping strategy (a common one for people with pain) was to block it all out as much as possible, push it all away and then push through it until you can’t ignore it anymore. Blocking it out worked for me for a period of time (a few years), but I wasn’t as happy within myself as I am now. What I do now, I realised, is that I can feel the pain, notice it and acknowledge that it’s there, but it doesn’t make me sad. It doesn’t make me frustrated, or angry. Most of the time, it doesn’t change my emotions. It’s not connected to them anymore. And this means that I can have my pain there, and be able to accept it without judgement, without negative emotions, without any of that. And being able to do that means that I live so much more involved in life, because I am not blocking it out. This has taken a lot of time to happen, and I’m not sure how it did (I wish I could help more), but I think it is because I found ways to be happy outside of my pain, and from then this followed.


What I said about blocking out emotions before applies to this too. Just like you can’t selectively block out an emotion, you can’t selectively block out things from your life. Blocking out my pain, meant blocking out parts of life (or being less engaged). But now, I can accept that the pain is there without all of the baggage.


And letting go of that has made my life so much more fulfilling, enjoyable and, well, liveable.