I am at work sitting at my desk, in a moderate amount of pain on a recent morning. The week had been characterized by a daily battle with fatigue which dogged me even after a full 8 hours of sleep. As long as I did not lie down as I got ready to leave the house for work, and kept moving gently, I was able to make it out the door.
Once I am at work, I can settle in at my desk and recover from the effort it took to get there. I adjust my amazing work chair, prop my feet up on the foot rest beneath my desk and focus on what’s in store for the day.
I had recently watched the movie “Frida” and I thought of Frida Kahlo this particular morning. As my back and legs clamored for my attention, my mind recalled her story. Frida survived a devastating accident only to live the rest of her life with pain. It has been said that she used her art to depict the depths of her suffering.
Her paintings had the ability to touch the viewer deeply, and invoke a broad array of feelings. Her limitations empowered her in her work. And while I may not be comfortable with many of her life choices, what inspired me about her story is that she was true to herself, refused to silence her art, refused to succumb to circumstances.
Barriers are so easy to construct, and once in place seem unmovable. The limitations I impose upon myself have many times been proven to be insubstantial. Anticipating the unknown and preparing for the worst I have expended a lot of energy that could have been used to simply enjoy the day.
Chronic pain, illness, or disability need not take the upper hand in how I navigate my days. I spent the first couple of years after I was diagnosed with MS trapped behind a barrier of anxiety and fear. I was held hostage by the “what-ifs” and the “what-nows” and I think I became an emotional burden to the people around me.
Fortunately I have met others who dealing with many of the same things that I have faced. I came to a better understanding of the mind body connection and with time I have learned how to look at myself with compassion. Not denying the fear, or repressing the anxiety, but holding it gently and then letting it go on its way. I know that I can acknowledge those constraining barriers and shift my gaze to look beyond them.