Pain-filled Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear, but standing firm in the midst of fear.

I don’t feel very courageous right now. I’m in a slump, and the migraines are chipping away at my foundation. A twelve hour day one day means that the next is painful. Only the bare minimum of things get done. I want energy, I want rest, I want courage.

Courage. I’d like a little more of it. Or a lot more of it. I want to be courageous and strong and invincible. But I’ve read often enough, and seen movies often enough that say that courage is not the absence of fear, but knowing your fear and facing it. So I wonder, what fear do I need to face, so that I am more courageous.

Migraines and pain are slantwise opponents. See here: be strong one day and we’ll take away all your resources for the next two. This is not the way I had planned to move about the world. I’m still young-ish. I want to be able to go and write everything I think about. I want to go and make friends in my community more than I have done so far. I want to cook each and every night, but it is hard to cook when it hurts to stand, and you’re not really very hungry anyway, thank you very much.

So if I can’t get more time without pain, how can I build endurance? How can I grow into what I can do, while also taking care of my body, spirit, and relationships? How do I walk the tightrope of pain when it is cutting into me and the spare tendril is threatening to drop and strangle me at the same moment?

I am shadowboxing my pain, only the shadows have a mind of their own. I can’t land a punch without revealing three more tender spots to my opponent. I need to woo my pain. I need to convince it that it is still important to me, but then figure out a way to leave it stranded in the wilderness. The only problem is that I think too often I’ve ventured to the wilderness, determined to leave the pain behind, only to find myself lost holding onto the only thing that seems familiar: my pain.

I wonder if I could invite the pain into my home, give it a cup of tea at the kitchen table, and then go and do all the things that I want to do. Maybe it will forget that it is supposed to clasp itself onto my skull and take the time to enjoy the falling leaves outside the windows. Maybe it will get bored and forget why it came to me in the first place and look at the time and say: Oh, look how the time has passed, I must be going to my next appointment!

Wouldn’t that be wonderful, especially if it got lost on the way there, and never made it to the next victim. I wouldn’t wish this on my darkest enemy. I don’t want to be in pain, but this pain is teaching me more about myself than I would have ever learned in a year as an able bodied person.

I want courage. I want courage to face the dark nights where I cradle my head because the pain is so fierce. I want courage to face the days where I have ten or fourteen hours of things to do, and only five hours of coherence. I want courage to face the dreary moments when all I want to do is return to bed. I want courage to face the hours of no rest. I want courage.

Standing Strong in the Wilderness
Standing Strong in the Wilderness

I plan to build courage.


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