Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ritual for Coping with Pain

I spend the morning lying on the couch, wrapped in my electric blanket, in pain.  If I lay in this position, my shoulder hurts.  In this position, my arm hurts.  In this position, my hip hurts.  In any position, my feet ache and occasionally a muscle spasm in my feet curls my toes and makes me cry out in pain.   Cayenne curls up on the arm of the couch nearest my feet and Isaac lies on the floor beside the couch, also curled in a ball.  I can hear him shifting position when a muscle spasm makes me cry out.  Otherwise all is quiet.  It is sunny outside but windy and the movement of the trees outside the window casts moving shadows across the wall.

I want someone to come and help me but of course there is no one.  This pain feels like a punishment but I don't know what I've done wrong, other than to be alive.  I understand why people in pain think of death, of euthanasia, of mercy killing.  If Cayenne was in this much pain, I'd have her put to sleep.  I think of Cayenne, who is not in much pain, who is not ready to leave this world, and who needs me to care for her.  I think of Isaac, who would most likely be fine without me, who would bond easily to another owner, but who loves me nonetheless and who I love, who I don't want to leave.

I pull myself off the couch.  I go to the bathroom, plug in my space heater, turn on the tap in the tub.  Add Epsom salts and eucalyptus oil to the hot water.  Light incense and candles, place the candles around the tub.  I put Gregorian chants on my laptop (did you know Pandora has a Gregorian chant station?).  I make tea and carry it to the bathroom, where I undress and then wrap myself in warm, soft towels.  I sit on the soft, fluffy bathmat, lean back against the side of the tub.

I breathe.  I inhale, I exhale.  The pain does not matter so much in this space.  No, I can't stay here forever, but I am here now.  And I breathe.  And I soften.

I pray.  I pray to Yemaya, who is an African Goddess of the Ocean, a Mother Goddess.  I ask her to hold me, to just let me ride the waves and keep me safe and keep my head above water.

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