Tuesday, July 23, 2013

three letter battle

I am sitting on my bed in my bathrobe, intently reading a text on my phone after my morning shower when I realize:  that little piece of wet hair is curving over, poking me in the face, and it might as well be a jagged blade or something.  The irritation is a low buzz in the background of my morning and I've been blocking it, but suddenly I am acutely aware:  my hair is touching my face it it is making me want to punch something. 
Oh man. 

Then I register more, awaking my mind to pay attention to my body.  A dull, heavy headache.  The insides of my ears slightly sore, as if I had been to a too-loud concert yesterday, or maybe spent the day in a swimming pool.  My neck aches a bit.  I can feel the seams in my robe and they too feel jagged, invasive, offensive - don't touch me!  My belly is heavy with a nasty concoction of cramps and just a touch of nausea.  The muscles in my legs are sore.  The dry skin on my feet and ankles is making an ever-louder clamor for attention - I am practically twitching with the need for lotion.

But the worst of it is that little wet section of my bangs.  It keeps touching - poking, bothering my face.  I push it back and it flops back down and pokes again.  Push, flop, poke.  Push, flop, poke.  I shake my head in frustration and another bit of stray hair, already dry and light, swings forward from the other side, sticking itself to my slightly damp cheek.  I almost let a growl of irritation escape my throat, even as I realize how off-the-charts my sensory overload is, how unreasonable my unexpressed response to it all.

That's when I know:  it's time for those dreaded 3 letters once again:  PMS.  Gah. 

The good news is that these days I know how to respond (or, largely, NOT respond) to it - how to choke off its attempt to wreck my mood, and accordingly my day.  Carefully I dry my ears and flatten that pesky piece of hair down (a much better tactic than pushing it back).  I find the lotion for my feet.  I rub my tummy (what a surprise it was, learning how much that helps!)  I bend and stretch and most of all focus on peace.  Be still.  Remain calm.  Don't rail against it or try to insist that I shouldn't have to feel this way.  Study the sunshine.  Write grats.  Take Aleve.  Drink hot water.  Above all else, DO NOT cooperate with any voice of body loathing, self-hatred, resentment, etc.  Don't listen to it, don't repeat its claims - not even silently in my head.  Don't fall into the pity pot.  Trust God. 

Doing my dishes after breakfast, I drop a dish, and it breaks into many pieces in the sink.  Unsteady hands and an unfocused mind are both regular hangers-on during the dreaded time of 3 letters.  At many points of the journey, the broken glass would have been an occasion for tears, for an hour of inner complaint, for the derailing of a morning.  This morning I am purposefully, willfully patient and unsurprised.  I pick up the pieces of glass, slowly, carefully, knowing a hurry only results in cuts, which will only be another challenge to face.  I get every piece and my hands are unbloodied in the end.  When the dishes are done, I smile, on purpose.  Gotta celebrate victories.  It is so very much more important, at times like this morning, than it ever is on ordinary, easy, pain-free days.  Celebration and smiles are tools of survival and healing, and if you don't know that yet, I beg you to begin considering and praying through the idea. 

I'm awfully glad that PMS is only an occasional visitor at this point in my life.  Sometimes it skips entire years between visits.  Lately, it has come hanging around almost every month.  In truth, I'd be thrilled it if would just go away and leave me alone. 

But.  His grace is sufficient for me.  I discover this every time that I show up willing.  PMS doesn't have to leave, in order for me to be at peace...full of joy, even. 

Here's to learning that in ways that make a real difference on a workday morning. 

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