Filling in the blanks

I currently work in digital marketing. When a client asks me what I think about them adding a blog component to their website, I usually propagate the Golden Rule of blogs and social media: If you’re not going to update it and maintain it, don’t have it at all.

So imagine how hypocritical (and embarrassed) I might feel when I publish my first blog post in almost two years. In my last update, I describe scenarios involving work, volunteer commitments and chronic pain that, at the time the post was published, prohibited me from devoting attention to Bitsy & Boo. But truthfully, I could have made publishing content to this blog happen, but I didn’t. The reasons for not doing so seem substantial and frivolous all at once. When I spent my days working in a newsroom, I was surrounded by remarkably talented and thoughtful truth-seekers. What I could write or contribute in my free time seemed inane. It still does. And when I moved from Baton Rouge to New Orleans a year and a half ago, I began my acquaintance  with the wondrous, nostalgic, corrupt, heart-lifting, infuriating, mesmerizing glitter rocket of a city that is New Orleans. I told myself that I didn’t want to spend any more time behind a screen each day than was absolutely necessary, that I was going to live. But have I? Am I doing enough to make my life here meaningful and memorable? Am I active enough in my community? “No,” my inner voice tells me, “you’re not.” And that brings us back to the supreme excuse: That fighting chronic pain is truly exhausting, and after devoting eight-plus hours of focus to work and colleagues each day, it feels as if there isn’t much left of me. Not enough to populate a post here anyway.

Some say that a dull, constant throb or ache is worse than quick but excruciating pain. I have been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to not have yet experienced the latter in my lifetime, but the former does apply, and I can see how someone would opt for the quick and agonizing. Duration of pain matters. The sharpest physical pain is usually followed by sharper pain, then sharp, then moderately sharp, then less sharp, and so on and so on until there’s no pain left at all. You may be left mutilated physically, mentally or emotionally, but the healing can begin. Whatever tasks or goals or relationships or experiences you had or wanted to pursue prior to the incident that caused the excruciating pain, you can often resume or begin anew. Constant, unchanging pain is different. And when it goes on long enough, and you have truly exhausted every medical option feasibly available to you, you begin to realize that the healing you so desperately seek may never come. That’s where I believe many chronic painers reside, the place where despair thrives, where it feels ridiculous and deceitful to say things like, “When I’m feeling better, I’ll [fill in the blank with a plethora of tasks, goals, relationships or experiences].”

I lived there for a while, and sometimes still feel like I do. Most people that know me wouldn’t know that. I am one of the more fortunate. My pain doesn’t leave me bed-ridden or limping. No exterior deformity or impairment signifies deeper suffering. I am a normal-looking 25-year-old who, after four neurologists, three different diagnoses, and dozens of drugs, has discovered one drug that manipulates my pain enough to let me live a full(ish) life. Other chronic painers reading this most likely want to punch me in the gut right now. Or worse.

It is for them and for me that I write this post. I’m compelled to try to fill in the blanks of my life with  tasks, goals, relationships and experiences that help me find joy in spite of chronic pain. But I shouldn’t use the word “spite.” The joy and pain must live in unison.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Smile! It’ll make you feel better”? Studies indicate that facial expressions can reinforce and perhaps even drive corresponding emotions. I’d like to think that that applies to other forms of expression as well. That writing is a form of smile for me, and its corresponding emotion, joy. It’s what my most thoughtful, yearning, satisfied, focused, alive self does. What I publish will be inconsequential to most. I’m alright with that now. Many people call their blogs “little corners of the internet” for a reason. The goal is not to attract millions of page views and monetize this thing with floating ads promoting chukka boots, lingerie, personal “devices” or any number of cookie-betrayals lingering in your web browser’s history. Any journalist or  digital marketer reading this may notice that I didn’t optimize my headline. That’s ok. This is the little corner where I’ll write about things that excite me, frighten me, move me, etc. Anyone and no one is welcome to visit, but I do appreciate you for stopping by!

-Rebecca

Comments

  1. Great post, Rebecca! I know your chronic pain is no merry-go-round, but you don’t let it spoil your fun.

  2. Wow. Love that prose. Absolutely brilliant words. Thank you.