I can feel it with every fibre of my being this morning. I'm starting to rise again. This has been a long time coming. It is my hope that the harder one has to work, the longer one has to wait and the more desperate one becomes before a change, the longer the transformation will last.
I knew this. I knew I was having my "on the floor" moment, minus the crisis. There was no drama, no fanfare nor any one catalyst that drew attention to the fact that I was losing the battle. It was quiet, undramatic and invisible to the naked eye. I was undergoing a minor crisis of epic proportions and the way it presented itself to me was a low grade depression I could not kick, with a side order of annoying little pains and topped off with an optic migraine.
I have never had a migraine headache so I was completely unaware of the optical symptoms which accompany it. My eyes simply went weird on me and it scared my socks off. My over imaginative brain had all sorts of ideas going on inside of it, from something sitting on my optic nerve, to a brain aneurysm, to a tumor, to simply a detached retina. Thankfully it was none of the above. It was a migraine headache without the pain.
Pain without a cause seems to be the common denominator within several of my recent symptoms. A sore wrist turned into a sore thumb when I went for physical therapy to cure a pain that may or may not have existed in the first place (I'm certain it existed otherwise my imagination is taking over my reality and that is too frightening to consider). I told the therapist I had a sore wrist and he "ruined" my thumb on his assumption (or my miscommunication skills) that it was related. On a positive note, my thumb pain has exceeded my wrist pain so I guess that is something. I have yet to recover from one session of physical therapy. This happened the last time went to that very office. The cure was worse than the symptom. Which makes me wonder if I was really feeling physical pain to begin with, or if this was all in my head. The opposite of my painless migraine.
Last week, it was a toothache which woke me up in the middle of the night and lasted for four days. Obviously I was not imagining this because I couldn't eat or place any pressure on that side of my mouth. So I booked an early morning emergency dental appointment to fix whatever was going wrong because I didn't have time to go twice, for something I needed fixed immediately. What happened instead, was they took an X-ray and there was no physical reason for my toothache. The dentist's best guess is that I injured a ligament in my tooth and only time would heal it. Or else the nerve was dying and a root canal would become necessary eventually. But for that day, there was physically no reason for my pain and nothing he could do to fix it.
What the heck? I came home and wondered if I have reached the age where doctors look at you and decide you aren't worth fixing any more or if I was simply imagining things. This morning, I started thinking of my invisible "rock bottom moment" without a defined crisis to warrant the event and I started to wonder if these physical symptoms without a cause was related. The pain was real in both cases (physically and mentally) but there was no excuse for it.
I walked into my doctor's office for my annual physical check-up days after my "ocular migraine" feeling absolutely defeated. I felt mentally and physically spent. I didn't know what to do. I was stuck at a crossroad and it looked like a dead end. I wasn't in pain but I was (or must have been) displaying symptoms of arthritis so she offered me a perscription for "Cymbalta". which treats depression, with the added benefit of alleviating chronic pain disorders such as arthritis. The idea of taking a pill which would fix all that ailed me sounded like the best and easiest way out. I had been trying to dig myself out of the pit I had fallen into for the better part of a year. On my own, I couldn't get a strong foothold before I fell back, with every forward step. "Sign me up!" was all I could think in that very moment. She also suggested taking some arthritic painkillers to help with the no-grade pain that was causing me to slow down.
I felt euphoric when I walked out of that office, thinking I had found my solution. Call it cosmic timing, call it what you may but within a day of that event, I went out to Mom's after she broke her wrist and was dealing with physical pain with a very real and defined cause. All I could think after I returned home from my visit was her insistence that she didn't want to become reliant or addicted to any pain medication. "You feel pain for a reason" was her logic. We countered with the argument "Why feel pain if you don't have to?"
"Why feel pain if you don't have to?" The words haunted me. I stopped taking the arthritic pain killers immediately and a few weeks later, I called my doctor and told her I want to stop taking the Cymbalta. It was after I was weaned off of that medication when my tooth started to ache (well, it was also after I ate some popcorn, so I really thought my toothache was popcorn related). It was after I was told there was no reason for my tooth to ache when I truly started to question what was going on with "me".
Then I listened to another one of Glennon Melton Doyle's podcasts this morning and she talked about "rock bottom moments" and the need to not only FEEL your pain but she has actually found herself running towards it "because that's where the good stuff is" (she writes about it here: http://momastery.com/blog/2015/04/21/pain-mistake/).
I looked back on my "rock bottom moments", the moments when life brought me to my knees and YES! I totally agree and have always said (even before I knew Glennon so well) that these were the moments that changed me, rerouted my life and took me where I needed to go. Pregnant and unmarried at the age of 17, then divorced by age 18; uprooting my life and my family with little more than the clothes on my back at age 27; single and pregnant (again) at the age of 37; alone and broken hearted (after what I KNEW was going to be the relationship which I would last for the rest of my life time) at the age of 46. THESE were all of my "fall to the floor broken, broken hearted" moments that defined me and changed my life. These were awful in the moment but took me to the very best of places.
Then came the more subtle "rock bottom moments". A stream of bad work experiences outside of my home brought me back "home again". I reopened my daycare. I was still broken and wounded. I had learned lessons but I didn't take those lessons and incorporate them into my life moving forward. I simply internalized them. I lived in an insulated world of safety and acceptance for four years. Then came this year. The year of "pain without a cause".
I had hit rock bottom and there was no evidence that I was there. There was no dramatic crash. It was quiet but just as painful. And it was lonely. Lonely because I did not invite anyone into the abyss. "Yes, I'm okay. I went through a tough spell but I learned a lot." I surrounded myself within my insulated world, worked for parents who appreciated and were (are) so very kind to me. Life was good. I had no reason to complain. Except for this low grade pain I couldn't make go away. Was this the reason my body was starting to hurt for no physical reason?
I started my holiday by listening to Glennon Doyle Melton at "The Beautiful Writers Podcast": https://soundcloud.com/user-780938996/martha-beck-glennon-melton-interview-ver-2-7-29-2016 and I knew. I just KNEW I had to close my daycare and take a chance on my future. I was willing to cash in on my pension to fund my transition but I knew it with the certainty that I had to end my marriage once and for all. I knew my life depended on it. I simply KNEW.
The decision to close my daycare has been made with grace, with four month's warning and lots of time for all of us to readjust. My daycare parents, as always, have been nothing but kind to me as I explained my need to close my doors.
In closing one door, I started talking again. By talking, another door opened. By opening up and not pretending I was okay living in discomfort, I found comfort. And the opportunity to earn an income during this transitional phase.
In order for new doors to open, we have to close other doors. Standing in the doorway with one foot in both places is not my way. I'm either "all in" or I'm "all out". I have to be out of one place before I'm ready to step into another.
I have faith in the future but I need to be honest with myself and "real" with the people who walk beside me as I take steps toward uncertainty. I don't need advise or guidance. I simply need to be honest. Every single time I have been honest, I hear honesty echoed back to me. This is the world I want and need to live in. I'm not exactly sure what it looks like right now. But I know I'm one step closer than I was yesterday.