My Pain Belongs to the Divine

“You know how they say you only hurt the ones you love? Well, it works both ways.” – Chuck Palahniuk

My father was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was six-years-old. At that time, he was told that he wouldn’t live to be twenty-five, and he lived a hard, fast life. If that prediction had been accurate, I wouldn’t be alive. However, at twenty-six, he was told that he was going to die before his thirty-fifth birthday. He survived, living even harder. Within his thirty-sixth year, my father took deathly ill, and it seemed like the early predictions of an early death would come true, but he pulled through. However, he was told by his physician that he would never work again. Oh, and, also, that he wouldn’t survive to be forty, and so on and so forth.

My father has lived over fifty years with his disease. He has survived a major heart attack, he has defeated two types of cancer, and there may soon be a third, because he has, of course, never stopped the smoking habit he developed at the age of nine, even after smoking killed his father. Minus his two legs below the knee, my father, ironically a career truck driver, keeps on trucking, so to speak. He has remained on forced retirement, the whole while.

Between my sister and I, I was the stronger, healthier child. Until I got bitten by a deer tick at the age of 12, my health was damn near perfect, other than my rather screwed up eyes, and a genetic disposition to bi-polar disorder and alcoholism (both of which I ended up, apparently, developing). I now have what my doctor is still trying to tie down between Lupus, MS, and/or Fibro; whatever it was got progressively worse, especially after an over-sized Dodge Ram went through the back of my beloved Pontiac Vibe while I was still in it, late in the summer of 2007.

However, my 30th birthday has come and gone. It looms before me. It now boggles my mind that my father was only six and a half years older than I when he was told, “If you continue to work, you’re guaranteed to die a quick, but painful death. If you stop working, we’ll give you another ten years for sure, maybe even more,”. Is that why I continue to live my life through levels of pain I’ve been told should see me hospitalized? Why I’d rather be on the anti-depressants and using the Straight-Edge lifestyle to help quieten the intense, and usually overwhelming desire to run to the bottle, wherein once I used alcohol to quell the pain or at least let me forget how often I want to scream and scream and scream in utter and what I once considered unthinkable anguish?

Am I really better for all of that?

I get so everlastingly tired of being in constant pain. Yes, I still want to scream. Sometimes, all I can think of as I put one foot in front of the other is to picture myself locked in a sound-proof room, screaming and keening at the top of my lungs. Simpler motions, just typing this, it’s an agony of ever keystroke. A feeling like moving my finger down is driving a red-hot spike through my fingertip, into my arm, through the muscle and sinew and bone and directly into my shoulder. I keep doing it, though, don’t I? If the doctor told me to stop working and he’d give me another decade, I don’t know what I’d do, because I’ve never liked the idea of admitting I’m not as strong as the simple sensation of pain. Maybe because once, in the deepest, darkest throes of depression, pain was all I ever craved. Now, I shudder to think of finding this preferable to the alternative of feeling nothing. Sometimes, I’m told that I do this to myself, because I refuse opiates and stronger pain medications (which, given my past with alcoholism would be a death sentence of another kind.  Is it normal to want to live a life of constant pain when I could be living without having to think about how best to move so not to set another flare of star-bursts off behind their eyes?

Not if that includes having a monkey on my back. Not if that includes giving up on living.  Not that I begrudge anyone else for the way they handle their pain. Suffering pain, any chronic illness, really, is about holding on to what you can do, and what works for you.  I’ll live my life the way it makes sense for me.  Not as my father did, trying to cram everything he could into a short life, but loving every second of the life I lead, even if it is, at times, not as pleasant a trip as I’d like.  What I do know, one way or another, is that life is far too short to angst away anytime

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