I try very hard to stay positive, to focus on the good, to live in a happy moment. I don’t always succeed. Happiness is not as an elusive concept as I once thought, but it is work. Either I put in the work or someone else does, but either way, someone has to work at keeping me happy. It’s a full-time job, more like a live-in job without any holidays or breaks. I don’t have a single memory that isn’t overwhelmed by the memory of hurt. I try to screen it out as best I can, photoshop it better, but the original isn’t replaced, it’s still there, underneath, visible, present. Pain makes happiness something that needs that much more work.
I am more emotional than I used to be. I sat crying with my knees pulled up against my chest in a cold bath after tonight’s three hour raid. It’s not that the raid itself was particularly bad or difficult, but it’s summer and it’s been a long day and raiding is always as painful as it is fun and although the fun hits a peak at the time, the pain mostly peaks afterwards. I got too hot, my breathing stopped working the way it was intended to and bones moved in weird and wonderful and awful ways that I just wasn’t able to fix.
I can make do with what I have during the day. I had a good night’s sleep last night and it was easy to accentuate the positive and brush over the negative for the biggest part of the day. It hurt but as long as I pretended that it didn’t, I was okay. By eleven o’clock at night the margin of error has shrunk so much that it was absent. I felt okay and under control until I splashed cold water on a recently dislocated knee and the sensation focused my attention on it and suddenly pain was rushing in and I couldn’t control it, couldn’t stop it. It hurt, everything hurt and hurt more than I could control.
Chris sat on the edge of the tub and stroked my back until the sobbing eased up. It was followed by the usual brief argument of Chris: ‘sweetie, lie down’, me: ‘no’, Chris: ‘sweetie, please lie down, you’re too hot’, me: ‘no’, Chris splashed water over me. I shriek and glare even though he can’t see. ‘Lie down. Please.’ I reluctantly give in. The cool water is actually rather pleasant until the shivering starts. Stupid connective tissue that screws with my internal thermostat. And now it’s ‘sweetie, time to get out of the tub’, me: ‘no’. And round and round we go. Chris gets frustrated, storms out, slams the door. Cat meows as if to say ‘stop arguing’. A minute goes by and then Chris opens the door apologetically, ‘sweetie’, he says, ‘please get out of the bath’. He holds the towel open and smiles, ‘I’m on your side’, he says. I step into the towel and start crying again as he wraps me up.
We go to bed. I can’t sleep. Chris has work tomorrow. He falls asleep near instantly. I stare at the laptop screen infront of me, wondering what to do with it. Fill it with words? Stories? Find happy thoughts or expel sad ones by writing them down? How do I make the empty screen make life better and not worse? I write an email, write a blog, pull up an ebook and try to escape but once pain passes a certain threshold escaping in a new book seem impossible. I hit play on my iPod, listen to soothing music, but it’s a static comfort that’s just not the same as company. I contemplate waking up Chris to rub my back and lean into me until I can feel him breathing against my skin, but I refrain. Chris has got to work early in the morning. It’s difficult to keep me happy. Every time I get hurt its like the happy metre resets to zero and we start all over again. It’s a constant effort. Mostly I’m okay with that. But sometimes, occassionally, I don’t want to work at it. I want to relax and simply have it be. As I lie in bed listening to soothing music and think about the people that help keep me happy without ever having to be asked, I’m a little happier already.
It’s easy to focus on the things I can’t do, all the things that go wrong, all the times I’ve been hurt and how very much it all hurts. But it’s necessary to sometimes let go and just be happy with what you’ve got. There’s always more, but there’s always less too and no matter how much life hurts, pain is always tinged with a little joy. There’s good and bad in everything, I try to acknowledge the bad, but focus on the good, even when the good seems as tiny as a spec of dust dancing in a ray of light. Hurt only overwhelms when you let it. Sometimes the best you can do is let it wash over you whilst thinking happy thoughts. Lots and lots of happy thoughts. With strawberries and rain.