It had been a difficult night … more like a series of fitful naps than normal nighttime sleep. By early morning the back pain was so intense I had to get out of bed. I wanted to cry out, “No! This can’t be happening!” The pain was so severe I could barely walk or even sit. I wanted to scream, “No, no, no! I’m on vacation. I don’t deserve this especially while I’m here. It’s so cruel and unfair!!”
I had been looking forward to this trip for six months, carefully planning and packing for four weeks due to an ailing back which would allow only 20 minutes of activity before I needed a break. I had felt certain that, once I reached my destination, I would experience much-needed relief beneath the healing warmth of the Mexican sun. How was I going to relax while in so much pain? I felt like the Creator had abandoned me. I was frightened and sad, so, so sad.
Oops. Wait. I had been in this dark place before. I knew what to do … look for the good, look for the good. I needed to find some “good.”
In the midst of the pain, anxiety, and fear, I forced myself to look out the window at the sky … a stunning blue that I have seen nowhere else but here. I quickly looked away. It’s beauty seemed to mock my ugly pain. But I knew that I had to look again and really see that glorious sky, the white-white sand, the gently swaying fronds of the palm trees, and the countless diamonds sparkling on the water in the morning sun.
Yes, my pain was intense but I was here in a paradise and this was exactly where I most wanted to be. What a gift! I then realized that my whole body was taut and folded in on itself. I was barely breathing. So, I sighed and started breathing, slow deep breaths … a prescription that I had given you such a short time ago.
The back pain began to ease a little. The more I breathed the more calm I became. The despair lifted and clarity returned. My vacation was not lost. I had brought a little medication that might take the edge off the pain. Maybe by taking it and going down to lie on the beach, I could salvage this day.
It was not easy to turn myself around. Focusing on the good repeatedly and calming my breath were difficult at first but those were my only tools in that moment. The pain, at a lesser level, stayed with me all day. But I had robbed it of its power and that day turned out to be one of my best ever.
When you are going through an especially scary patch, remind yourself of your own power. Look for the good. Breathe. And never, ever give up.
“Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us.” Charles Kingsley