My mother was a woman who, by the time she died, defined herself by her ailments. I never knew exactly what her full story was or why she retreated over the years into this state but I never wanted to follow her. I never wanted to channel her in that way. But ailments happen. They are. Not acknowledging them and their impacts on our lives and perspectives isn’t helpful to our well-being. How does one acknowledge “ailments” without slipping into an obsessive focus on what is “wrong”?
Today I began to slip into what I came to define as a “painscape” brought on by a severe episode of back pain. Just attempting to paint was painful. I write this post later, after the episode has subsided but not entirely disappeared. Analyzing what was happening in the moment was impossible; all I wanted was to disappear into insensibility. But, I had to work and my work involved being “front of house” for an opera company where showing what I actually felt was inappropriate and impossible. Life is live theatre in more ways than one.
So, while I presented a smiling, congenial, pretty face to the crowd of opera goers I fought an internal battle with what ended up being 36 hours of intensely crushing pain. Although the pain has subsided at the moment it’s still twinging and I am quite literally terrified that it will return and I won’t be able to function.
(© Karen Opp. All rights reserved.)