if you know me personally - heck, if you've ever met me - i'm writing to you.
i've had headaches for as long as i can remember. my mom says i started complaining about them at age eight. that was 28 years ago. that's a long time to have headaches. the past three years, since giving up gluten and dairy, have been the best of my life with regard to the intensity and frequency of my migraines. but they are still my biggest struggle.
they usually play out in real life like this:
last weekend i was looking forward to having breakfast with my friend chelsea.
but then i got a migraine.
and i cancelled on her.
the pain i endure during a migraine headache is excruciating. debilitating. indescribable, really.
but the physical pain is nothing compared to the embarrassment and shame and guilt oh the guilt! i feel when i consider the people in my life who are forced to suffer because of my affliction.
even though it's been five years since i've held a paying position, it's safe to say everyone i've ever worked with has been negatively affected by my migraines in one way or another. most especially my colleagues at cb richard ellis who picked up the pieces at a time when my headaches were at their all time worst. to my coworkers - i am sorry for calling in sick. i'm sorry for calling in sick again. i'm sorry for calling in sick again and again and again. i'm sorry for leaving you to carry your load alone and to carry my load for me. i'm sorry this made you feel like i couldn't be trusted. i'm sorry my headaches became your pain in the ass.
to my friends - i'm sorry for cancelling on you. even the times - especially the times - we've had dinner scheduled, and babysitters lined up, and tickets purchased, and reservations made months in advance and i still cancel at the last minute. please know that i can't control it. if i could control it, i would. i want to see you and spend time with you and have fun with you and catch up with you and be a giving-more-than-taking friend to you. i don't want to be your unreliable, why-do-you-even-bother-trying friend. the thought of that makes my stomach ache right along with my head.
but mostly to my husband and children - i'm sorry for lying on the couch again. i'm sorry you have to keep the lights off and the blinds down. i'm sorry you have to be quiet. i'm sorry i can't take you outside. i'm sorry you have to figure out dinner on your own. i'm sorry i don't want to play or can't play or won't play and that i'm in too much pain to speak. the three of you bear the biggest burden of all because you are the ones who actually see my pain. everyone else has to figure out what to do without me. you have to figure out what to do with me.
and that pretty much sucks for you.
clearly these migraine headaches aren't just about pain. it's a much deeper issue.
they make me feel unworthy of love, of understanding, of acceptance, of trust. they make me feel bad about myself. less than. like a terrible person - an awful coworker, a poor friend, and an incapable wife and mother.
any bad thought you may have had - any fleeting thought about my headaches - how you are so sick of my cancelling on you? leaving you in the lurch? how you just don't understand why i can't make them go away? or get them under control? or why they last so dang long? or why they happen every.single.time? - i promise you i have thought it too.
i think much, much worse about myself than anyone could ever think of me.
i remember the time i first told jeremy that i suffer from migraines. it was while we were still in the talking-on-the-phone-all-the-time, had-not-met-in-person-yet stage of our relationship. i felt as if i was confessing my deepest, darkest secret. i was scared he might not want to ever meet me. that he might not want to continue the relationship. that he might not want to spend his life with someone like me.
and i still think that today.
it breaks my heart that you - the people i care about most - face the sometimes harsh consequences of this difficulty i carry within me. it makes me question why you would ever want to share your life with me.
i look at each of you and see such beauty.
a long time ago, back in college, i had a friend named stephanie. one day she was telling me how she struggled with loving herself and thinking positively about herself and comparing herself to everyone else. but then she came to a realization - which struck me as very wise, poignant even - that she thinks her friends are beautiful, gorgeous, fun, funny, smart, enjoyable. and her friends hang out with her. so there must be something about her that they like. perhaps she is beautiful too. gorgeous even. and fun, funny, smart, enjoyable. there must be something within her that draws the attention and affection of these amazing friends.
i feel the same way.
to my former coworkers, my beautiful, gorgeous, fun, funny, smart, enjoyable friends, my family members, my incredible husband, my two little munchkins - i see so many amazing qualities in each of you! i love you all! i am thankful for you! you add joy and perspective and interest and liveliness to my life! i feel deeply, richly blessed by you!
and that makes me think there must be something about me that you find attractive.
even if you have to put up with the ridiculousness that is my migraine headaches.
i'm sorry you do!
but i am so very, very thankful you do.