Once again, this week, I found myself where I didn’t want to be. I was in bed with my childhood teddy bear and the weight of the chronic pain on top of me was making my very nerves shake. My cheek was pressed to the pillow, practically moulded to it, and I remembered all of the times I have used this as my default. Those times are countless.
I always feel shame when I acknowledge that. I tell myself that I am unproductive, lazy and useless. I put myself down on a constant basis from the safety of my head. I expect to feel ashamed of myself now. Just like others expect heartache or a lack of money in life. Yet thankfully, I have learned to right the exceptional wrong I have been doing to my body with these thoughts. Positive thoughts are three times as effective as negative thoughts and each day I bathe in a sea of my own affirmations. I don’t want anyone else’s, not anymore. They never feel as good.
It was this train of thought combined with the company of a beautiful friend that sparked my conclusions.
Every friend I have made, every person whom I have allowed into my life, has struggled in some form. Their demons were different but their pain is always smothering to bear. I know that to my friends I am a number on their list of ‘friends who’ve struggled’.
Recently an extremely close friend of mine suffered a loss. There is no need for details as loss is loss, and though the category is vast, the pain is a knife that affects everyone’s skin in the same way. My friend is a girl with delicate hands, an honest sense of humour and an exquisite taste in music. These are all of the things I and others associate with her. This is similar to how she may associate a seal-like laugh and a constellation of freckles with me. Yet, throughout hearing of her loss, I realised that these were not things she associated with herself. Far from it, actually.
You, reading this, have struggled. You, reading this, have been in pain. Yet, you, reading this, will remember, with more clarity, your supposed weakness during those times rather than the light in your eyes on the first-day things began to feel better or the childlike tiredness after your first day really feeling whole again. Yawning, stretching, existing – each of those moments were perfectly truthful associations of you, much more than any pain.
I, too, am guilty of this. When I call myself weak I take my word as God’s gospel and accentuate my weakness purely by my sole awareness of my demons. Thus, my chronic conditions dominate my life in these times. I will not tell you that I am a success story. I will only tell you that I am colder than the harshest winter and meaner than any of my demons. And I deserve the right to expect better.
Those are my associations with myself.
And then I see the Facebook statutes of those struggling – the tweets, the Instagram posts and think again of my friend. Her bed has become a war trench where she is a tired soldier and she hides and rests. Pain rolls in at her like a gas, destabilising everything she ever was before this hurt. I am her, she is me, and she is all of us as we struggle.
There are no words that will make someone fight harder to find their next bliss. No words to erase a wrong doing or a hurt. No, words are a warm breath against a snowstorm of sadness. Only knowledge can do that and that must be found by yourself. Yet I urge you to look, please look, for the knowledge that you are far stronger than any wave, colder than any winter and much meaner than your demons.
You are still sweetness with your wide eyes enjoyment of the sweet moments like the first beat of a music video and the last words of Harry Potter. You can do both. Your demons are inflexible and never changing. They are fire. They have the ability to burn if we choose to remain solely as flesh. No, you are much more. Be royalty in your own body. Be the Queen, King and every subject in your court. Be demanding of happiness and incessant about receiving it, for you, my love, were not born for pain.
You were born to rule over yourself with the knowledge of your own greatness.
It is this which makes me rise each day from my bed and get dressed. Each day is my loyal subject and I am a merciful queen.
And I am tired of acting like a pauper.