Using Pain

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Julia Cameron just posted this on Twitter:

Pain does use our energy, but we can consciously channel it toward positive action if we are willing to look at our options with fresh eyes.

It spoke to me like a message from the universe. My first thought was related to Rheumatoid Arthritis, for which I am currently being treated. I haven’t talked about it a lot here, but it’s been a big part of my life the last few months. (And I was suffering from it for a long time before that, but didn’t know what it was; the depression I have discussed was likely tied in to the chronic pain as much as anything else.) It’s been a relief to have answers, and the medicine I’m taking will likely prevent long-term joint damage.

Quick public service announcement: RA manifests in ways you might not expect. I had physical pain that I attributed to overtraining (and it wasn’t), but there are a lot of other symptoms I wasn’t aware tied into RA: fatigue, depression, getting sick a lot, flu-like symptoms. I thought I was going crazy, and I probably would have had a nervous breakdown if I hadn’t gotten a physical and learned more.

I’ve been feeling much better the last few weeks, due (I think) to a combination of medication and lifestyle change. I don’t get wiped out from everyday activity anymore, though I do still feel crushed if I overdo it. (Which is pretty much every time I teach Spinning.)

I’ve had to completely restructure my life. I was already pretty big on self-care, but now it’s the priority. Work is not my priority, though it’s going very well now that I’m part time, and don’t feel like I have to drag myself in at 7 a.m., feeling wretched and hating the world.

Anyway, the quote above, about channeling pain toward positive action, hit me in a way it wouldn’t have before. I have certainly used painful emotions as creative fuel in the past, but I’ve never considered how physical pain can make you look at your options “with open eyes.” That’s exactly what I’ve been doing the last week.

I know a 9 to 5 job isn’t possible for me now, maybe ever. With that in mind, I got a copy of the Writer’s Market 2015 from the library and started looking at my options. There are several great options for entry-level freelance in fitness magazines, for example, that I wouldn’t have considered before. I have stopped thinking of how low my chances are for making a living as a writer, and have instead focused on “filling the form” to work toward that future. I have started to see this disease as a gift – oh, I know, cliché city, right? – because it has ruled out what used to be my safety net.

I am finally feeling brave and strong enough to listen to that little girl inside who wrote stories for fun. So, I’ll write today’s pages, and do today’s research. And that is enough.

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