ouch: body positivity in the time of chronic pain

i have scoliosis. this means that my spine curves side-to-side in ways it really shouldn’t. my spine, being a particular dingus, does this twice, making an “s” and throwing my shoulders and hips out of wack. also, notably, some ribs have joined in the fun recently, popping in and out of place — mostly out — as suits them. dislocated ribs are of the devil xirself.

because of all these structural failings my body insists on having, i live with a considerable amount of pain on the daily. right now, it’s 2 a.m. and i’m curled up on my partner’s couch, distracting myself from how much i’d rather be curled up sleeping next to him but can’t be because my body hurts in every conceivable way and in almost every conceivable place. the degree of pain i’m experiencing tonight is actually less than i often experience, but because all of my joints and many of my muscles ache, i can’t get comfortable and i certainly can’t attain unconsciousness.

frequently, i think that if i didn’t have chronic pain, i could conquer the fucking world. like. i regularly operate under these conditions and i do an awesome job. how much more awesome might i be? feeling robbed of my potential in this way is incredibly frustrating and disheartening, but not nearly so much as the pain itself is. i want so badly to enjoy my life, but it’s exceedingly difficult to do that when the vessel i experience it in hurts all the time. i’m tired of it; i’m burdened by it; i want an opt-out button, but there isn’t one. i’m trapped in this painful flesh prison until i die. sometimes that thought is so overwhelming, i can’t feel anything but that despair.

with my body existing in what amounts to me as a state of constant betrayal, it feels impossible to love it. i want to love it, because that’s a better way to live, but i feel like it never gives me anything in return for that — or, if it does, what it gives isn’t enough. sometimes, i just don’t know how not to be angry with it, even though i know that the anger doesn’t help anything.

there are things i could do to ease this pain and even have some pain-free days. but that involves trusting other people with my body (something i’m not too keen on for a variety of trauma-related reasons) and finding the right person with the right techniques to align my shit, a difficulty that can only be solved by the ever-risky method of trial and error. it also means time and money that i honestly don’t have. (wouldn’t it be cool if this country had universal healthcare.)

in the meantime, things just keep getting worse. i slipped on ice earlier this week and now every joint on the right side of my body is a mess. every time i injure myself, something made easier to do by how wrong my whole body is from the jump, i lose the strength i need in my muscles to help hold my bones in place as the use of my body becomes further restricted. i hate doctors with a fucking passion, but i’ve been to urgent care twice and the er once in the past six months. there’s never anything to do about what i come in for and i never seem to fully heal. (although maybe i will from that slip, too soon to tell.)

how do i embrace a body that’s so miserable to be in? i know i should — because i don’t have an option, because the chronic pain community deserves an example of how a life can be lived well and a body loved under these conditions (not that i’d be the only one, but still, i’d rather be that), because i might find it in me to go through that frightening trial and error process if i can love me and my body enough. it’s what i feel called to do by the body positivity movement. but i just feel so left out by that. i know this body and bodies like it are worthy of love. but damn if that isn’t hard for me to pull off when this body hurts me like it does.

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