I had a great conversation with a friend who was able to help me see what I’ve been avoiding.
Why it’s hard to write is because what I need to write is the stuff I’ve been ignoring or avoiding for so long. I have to stop and look at it instead of trying to outrun it.
I’m writing at this moment because what I should be doing is watching a video on how to get my ribs back in place. To be able to focus on that I need to be able to tolerate the pain and believe that it is worthwhile to take care of myself. That I should learn to prevent the pain instead of how to deal with it.
What I usually do instead is try to disassociate by absorbing knowledge or solving problems (puzzles).
I generally don’t share what my pain levels are on a day-to-day basis.
I’m trying to remember my earliest memory of pain. I remember the day I came in with a skinned knee. My kneecap solid red from blood. I can’t recall if it was dripping down my leg or just looked terrible because I had somehow scraped off all but the very thinnest layer. I don’t recall the pain either, but I do recall not feeling any until my mom reacted and then I freaked out crying.
In preschool and kindergarten I had long hair and my “friend” would sit behind me and braid my hair. She pulled so hard that it hurt, but it also felt so good that I was afraid to say anything in case she decided to stop braiding my hair because my complaints were so annoying.
I’m not sure if she was the same friend who died from cancer(?). All I remember about that was wanting to go to the funeral and being told that I couldn’t. My parents have told me they were trying to protect me. Instead, it taught me that what I wanted didn’t matter and I missed an opportunity to learn to handle grief with something other than avoidance.
I remember that we went to daycare and our caretaker would stick us out in the backyard to play. The trains went right by her back fence and they were SO LOUD and the ground and fence would shake so I’d cover my ears and crouch down into a ball until it passed. I know I didn’t like her, but other than that and her saying my hair was too short and my brother’s was too long, I can’t remember why.
I know elementary school is when I fell off the play structure and if I’d been any shorter probably would have broken my neck. I was climbing the ladder, slipped and landed standing on my feet with my chin on the platform the ladder was attached to. I bit my tongue painfully and barely noticed the pain in my knees and ankles from the landing.
In first grade I remember standing by my teacher and she told me to stop sighing. I remember saying I wasn’t sighing, I was just breathing. I think I was mouth breathing at that moment, but I realize now that I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my brain, so I kept taking deep breathes every once in a while. So I got the message that even my breathing was wrong and annoyed people. Even the people who “liked” me. I was definitely teacher’s pet, so that really hurt emotionally. She didn’t ask me what was wrong or why I was sighing, just told me to stop.
Writing that, my rib has been hurting this whole time even with the heat pad. And then my elbow started hurting too.
I had a best friend in first grade and we would play house. A third kid who everyone found annoying would ask to play too and we usually said yes, but he had to be the baby while me and my friend would be mama and papa and play house. I think we just bossed him around or tried to find ways he could play . I remember that we kissed once because that’s what the older kids did when they had “boyfriend” – and I never saw him again after first grade because his mom sent him to an all boys school because his assigned 2nd grade the following year was known to dislike boys. All the girls had gone to kindergarten together and already knew each other, so it felt especially difficult to join their social groups.
I think second grade was the year I didn’t really try and would do homework but not turn it in or just not do it. I think I couldn’t keep up with the organization needed that wasn’t necessary in first grade. I remember the teacher liked me but was worried about me and I was getting bad grades. I don’t recall how that resolved.