Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Return Of Pollyanna

I continue to explore this strange, new world. I wasn't sure if this new state of acceptance was going to stick, as this journey of chronic pain has been fraught with so many hills and valleys. But it seems it has, as each morning I'm waking up in a calmer state.

What's troubling, though, is that I haven't given up the painkillers, and I wish I could. I went most of the day without them today, but by the time I got home from afternoon errands (including a 12-step meeting), my face hurt just so bad, and it was all I could think of. I ordered a refill from the pharmacy, took two Vicodin, then fell promptly asleep for the rest of the afternoon.

This is what bugs me about painkillers. They rob me of precious hours of my life. I suppose I was hoping that a new state of acceptance would somehow make me so emotionally strong that I could withstand physical pain, but that hasn't been the case, and I'm wondering now how this is all going to play out.

What I love about pain medication is that, even if it does nothing for the pain, it helps me to escape it for a short while, at the end of which I usually take more to keep the escape going. But what I hate about it is that I no longer experience the natural highs of making art or music. I no longer experience those magical moments of truth where "art happens," and I'm left dumbfounded by what I've been able to channel.

I miss these experiences...a lot.

And as I sit here, I sip on a glass of wine and smoke a cigarette, which, combined with pain medication, makes me feel like a total degenerate. I must be the picture of the classic tortured artist. I can think of friends from the past who found these images of themselves romantic, but trust me, they're not. They're sad, and I feel weak and stupid until I catch myself and just accept that this is tough road I'm walking and will therefore be fraught with mistakes.

Some of my recovery pals like to think that this pain is just a manifestation of my secret desire "to use," and I do try to keep an open mind to their opinions. But as I sit here, my face fucking hurts. It's as real as this tasty Pinot Noir and Camel Light.

Decisions, decisions.

What's been interesting is that in this new state of acceptance, I can see just how angry, bitter, guilt-ridden and jealous I've been towards those who have such healthy and pain-free bodies. I wasn't even aware that I was feeling such things until I decided to stop fighting the pain so hard.

I was even jealous of my two- and four-year-old nieces, who are so innocent and pure, so healthy, so joyous, and live in such a love-filled life. I couldn't look at them at not feel some twinge of sadness and regret, as if all of the good things of life had passed me by, and one of my only real uses now as a human being was to help them grow into strong healthy adults. In such a state of pain and addiction, my life was beginning to feel over.

It was a horrible state to be in, and only now do I see just how destructive it was to my psyche. But acceptance has changed all that. I accept now that these awful things have happened to me in my life, and it's all okay. I can deal with it. I can make something with it; I can give it all meaning, and who knows? Maybe these very writings will be the biggest thing I will ever offer my fellow human beings, which means that every twist and turn won't be wasted, provided I can stay honest and true about every detail (which tonight is the issue of alcohol and nicotine).

I read an article recently by Scott Kiloby about something called "non-duality," which is the name of what I've been experiencing, apparently. We've exchanged a couple of emails about the topic, and he closed one by saying this: "What is, is what is. And a full surrender into that brings a peace of mind totally unknown to most people. I also experience it as unconditional love."

It occurs to me that had I not gone through this terrible ordeal, I might not have stumbled upon this insight, which indeed fills me with unconditional love.

When I played with my nieces this Christmas, I was filled with such light and such joy at watching them tear open their gifts. And instead of feeling any kind of jealousy or resentment, I felt deep compassion for them, as they go through their own trials and tribulations in their growth experience. And I was happy for them that they have a family who loves them so dearly.

Everything seems poignant to me right now, although I think I'm starting with the flu. Although I hate feeling these symptoms, I can even see the bright spot in having a nasty cold in that I don't smoke when I'm sick, and this will be a good break from it for a few days...an opportunity to break the habit for good, hopefully.

I'm feeling a little like Pollyanna again, which has always been an aspect of my character and has been missing for years now. I've always felt it's been a slightly corny part of me, but how I welcome her return. I don't know if she'll be here tomorrow, but she's here right now, and I'm grateful.

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