Brave Moments In Chronic Pain
Being brave is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s not the actual act of being brave that’s hard for me, it’s the recognition of my brave moments. More often than I care to admit, people tell me that I’m brave. They tell me that I’m strong. I don’t believe them. I can’t tell you the last time I went to bed thinking, “Wow, I was super brave today.”
I decided sometime last week that I wanted to change that. I started to crave bravery. I wanted to feel like the person others believe that I am.
Fast forward to Monday night. Monday’s are the BEST day of the week. No, that wasn’t a typo. I have a lot of classes on Mondays, and often times my tests are scheduled on Mondays, but I get to spend my Monday nights with some of my favorite people at YoungLife, a Christian organization here on campus.. Monday nights are my chance to fill my lungs with fresh breath, and prepare for the remainder of my chaotic week. I live for Mondays.
So, what does this have to do with my sudden desire to be brave? Well, the first 10 minutes or so of club each week, we have a worship band that plays some of the best music around and everyone sings their little hearts out, all in the name of Jesus. If you know anything about me, you know I’m so down for this. If you know anything about my disease, you know I can’t physically tolerate live music. Because of the severe hypersensitivity CRPS causes me, I feel every sound. Every week this semester, I’ve spent those ten minutes outside of club because I’m too afraid of the pain that music causes me.
It’s been heartbreaking to watch everyone else go into club so excited, while I stay behind. It’s also a pretty awkward thing when people ask me why I’m not going in. “Feeling music” isn’t really something many people can understand. I’ve resorted to avoiding conversations about it all together, and slipping in fashionably late without much of an explanation.
That changed this week. I decided that allowing myself to literally feel the music doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it scares me. But I was willing to take a chance this week. I ran the idea by my best friend on Sunday, and then texted my sister on Monday and told her to get ready because I was about to do something big (no matter how small this all may sound to the rest of the world). I knew that if I were about to take this brave step, I’d need support.
Monday night finally came around and I went into club so excited, yet terrified. It had been months since I’d endured the sensation of music. Two of my favorite and most trusted friends went in with me. We decided it was probably best to sit in the back. Maybe putting more distance between my nervous system and the music would make a difference (For future reference: I don’t think it does).
Things started out great. It was painful and it was hard, but despite the pain, it couldn’t have been a more precious scenario for me. When the first song ended and the second began, the emotions began to overcome me. I found myself surrounded by people who I love dearly, singing my current favorite song, Brokenness Aside by All Sons and Daughters. The tears were falling freely. Of course, in true chronic illness fashion, as the emotions escalated, so did the pain.
Halfway through, the shoe had to come off of my right foot because I was in complete sensory overload. My muscles were tense and my hips were burning. My upper body felt like it was being crushed with every note. In any situation other than this one, I would have been too overwhelmed with pain to comprehend what was going on around me.
I wouldn’t have traded that moment for the world, though. I knew it was temporary. I knew that I would survive. It was the moment that changed me. The moment that I realized I could do things that I had always believed I couldn’t… Things that other people told me I couldn’t do. For a brief moment in time, I wasn’t restrained by my illness. Even if just for one night, I conquered the pain and the fear.
I was brave…. I felt brave.
Have you had a brave moment in chronic pain? A time where you choose to fight back? Please tell us in the section below.