On Saturday I spent my afternoon getting a Mayan Abdominal Massage. For those of you who don’t know what that is — you aren’t alone. I don’t either. And yet, I paid a lot of money to get one. You might ask why I would pay money for something I know next to nothing about. Well, because I am desperate. I am desperate to feel “normal.” I would do almost anything to make my pain go away forever. Even if that means having some woman I do not know rub my abdomen for an hour.
Saturday was a day like any other except that on that day I woke up feeling worse than usual. Why? I don’t know. I don’t even bother trying to figure it out anymore. I just roll with it and know that it will eventually go away or I’ll fall asleep, one or the other. So on Saturday, the day that I felt like trash on a stick, I decided to go out on a limb and get some random holistic massage to relieve pain.
This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve tried something to make myself feel better. There was the time I tried to cut out gluten for a year to see if it helped reduce my constant bloating. There was the time I got my vagina steamed at some weird spa in Santa Monica. There was the time that I had a healer “take my illness away.” There was the time I had surgery. And there were the 9 different times I tried birth control. There was also the time I tried to get an IUD. And then there was the time I started taking Vitex three times a day every day for three months. There have been many, many times. So many times that I cannot even recall them all. So deciding to try out this particular treatment wasn’t a difficult choice. It was easy. Because when it comes to feeling better, I’ll try almost anything.
While I was lying on the table today having a woman rub my abdomen, I thought about how much time, energy, and money I have spent on just trying to feel normal. Just trying to live a “normal” day where I don’t feel the stab of pain in my abdomen or the exhaustion from simply being awake. This isn’t supposed to make you feel sorry for me. Though you can if you want. It’s just supposed to shed a light on what goes on in the mind of chronically ill people on a day to day basis. It’s so damn much.
Almost every single part of our lives can feel like a battle. We want to hang out with our friends but don’t want to put ourselves in a situation that we can’t easily escape from. We want to go to work and succeed at our jobs but also want to take care of our bodies. We want to be in loving relationships but feel extreme guilt at the prospect of pulling someone else along on this shitty journey with us. We want to remain optimistic and carefree but we feel the emotional weight of our illnesses every single second of every single day. We want to plan for our futures, but never quite know how much pain our future could hold. We want to live our freaking lives but sometimes aren’t given the ability to. We want to feel normal. But we aren’t normal, we’re sick.
Normal for me is planning my entire day around my illness knowing that it could get bad at any moment. It’s taking my heating pad with my everywhere that I go. It’s missing at least one day of work a month, if not more, because I can’t get out of bed. It’s getting abdominal massages and googling vaginal botox in my free time and ordering weird vitamins on Amazon and setting time aside to use my dilators. It’s also feeling a pang of guilt every time I have to cancel a plan and feeling sorry for myself every time I have to spend my weekend in bed. This is my “normal.”
But the idea of normalcy is simply an illusion, as Charles Addams would say. What’s normal for one person simply isn’t the norm for another. I don’t even know what normal is anymore. Maybe no one does.
If I let myself think too long about how much money and time and tears I’ve spent trying to fight back against my illnesses, I fear that I will never be able to stop. It’s really easy to focus on the bad shit in life. It’s really easy for me to sit here and say how pissed off I am that I don’t get a working vagina and uterus like other women. It’s easy for me to be furious about the fact that I don’t get to live a “normal” life. It’s much harder to appreciate my body for what it DOES do for me, than to hate it for what it doesn’t. It’s just freaking hard sometimes. But I won’t give up. Not today. Not tomorrow. I’ll always fight my hardest to embrace my normal. To not let it anger me, but to let it empower me. Because what other choice do I have? Nada.
I don’t really have a point to this, so I’m sorry if you’re still reading. Sometimes I just have to write it all down to get it out of my brain and try and make sense of it all. That’s the thing about chronic pain though — it never really makes sense no matter how much I want it to. It just sucks for no good reason.
P.S. I have blue and green mermaid hair now. It’s part of my new normal.