Pain Diary: That’s my story and I’m not sticking to it

Ah, first world problems.

Pain Diary is what I keep to record my pain and the possible factors that influence it- what did I eat? Am I stressed? Did I exercise? I think it’s a good practice, although my life and habits are so varied, and autoimmune stuff so mysterious, that correlations aren’t always visible, much less causations.

But last night, my pain was emotional. I’d just had a tangle with my daughter. We unschool, and I am 98% committed to it. Sometimes though, 2% of me says dammit, that ungrateful kid is going back to school!! And all day I’d been feeling the heartache of vacation hangover.

Even though travel is difficult, I always feel so sad when we get back to Wine Country. We usually see loved ones somewhere Back (South) East. Every time I come home, I grieve. ‘People are so much kinder there. I miss my mother. People are so mean here. The cost of living is killing us. We could be financially stable. We could have a bigger house. The culture is MY CULTURE, not like this, the Me State. I love those people. These people are all so angry, overextended, wrapped up in themselves and what have you done for me lately.’

Then there’s the stress of the holidays. ‘I can’t even think well enough to prioritize, much less get it all done. I miss my mom. There’s so much to do. I know I am telling myself keep it simple but there’s still so much to do. There’s never enough daylight. Partying too much breaks our budget and makes my symptoms worse, but what choice do I have? I’ll get fat. I won’t eat right or exercise. I won’t get enough time to myself and I will have a nervous breakdown. I may as well just give up.’

I won’t even get into the stories I tell myself about my parenting, my daughter, my unschooling. Suffice it to say… and on and on it goes.

So by 5 I was deep into it- first finishing off the peanut butter m and ms and making healthy inroads into the chocolate ones, then drinking a hefty glass of wine.  I was facebook gaming my evening away (Blossom Blast, if you must know) to escape my feelings.

Then, it happened. Somewhere between my daily dose of Facebook psychological help, a story about the Norwegian concept of koselig, a very insightful discussion on the unschool email group regarding parental control of children’s use of electronic media (is safety really more important than authenticity freedom and trust?), and my own mental pile of self help truisms gleaned from healing school, nonviolent communication and so on, it came to me.

What if I am just telling myself the same old story?  What if I recognize it as story? It isn’t that my grief isn’t real, or valid. But what if I go ahead and grieve, but remind myself that so many good things are still right here?

What if I acknowledge my stress, recognize that I will do my best but refuse to make myself miserable? This is not an emergency room where people are bleeding to death. This is the holidays. Things are not perfect, but they can be the best they can be- pretty darn good, if we allow that.

A whole layer of stress and grief lifted away. Koselig!




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