Last week, I was walking across the campus of Eckerd College, taking part in the Writers in Paradise Conference, when I realized I wasn’t in pain. I was glad I was wearing my sunglasses, because I didn’t want anyone to see the tears forming. I have never liked crying, because it always brings on the inability to breathe, and in some cases, it brings on the pain. Maybe that’s why I never want to cry. Not because I don’t want people to see me, but because I don’t want it to hurt.
Life is filled with pain, and that’s okay. This is by no means what the kids in high school called emo, this is just a fact. Were it not for pain, writing would be empty. There has to be darkness in the universe to balance out the light. But this pain? The kind where you sleep peacefully through the night and awaken with a tinge of fear, knowing it’s been over eight hours since you took your last pill. When the first thought in your mind is, “I have to take my pill.” The poison. I don’t want this stuff in my body. But I have to have it.
This experience is almost like a bizarre form of post traumatic stress disorder. It’s a surprise, one I don’t like. When will it come? When will that month, or three months, of pain arrive? It could be any day. And after you endure it, it elicits a sense of fear, even though you try your hardest not to be afraid. Fearing it can bring it on, you tell yourself. There’s that constant push and pull.
You have to do what’s right for you. Those who suffer with trigeminal neuralgia are usually familiar with their triggers. We recognize them, we realize them. We know it’s not a good idea to let the cold wind touch our faces. I spent a month in bed after the wind touched my face in November.
After my shower this morning (in which I carefully avoided washing my face) I thought I heard the chirping of springtime birds. It was just the water dripping through the copper pipes, descending into the bowels of this old house. I long for warmth. The warmth that enveloped me at Eckerd College last week. I just want that feeling back, that sensation of nothingness. I kept wondering what other people’s faces feel like.
Do what’s right for you. That’s why I’m writing this, to remind you of that. To remind myself of that. Why should we have to suffer? Certainly, if you know your triggers, avoid setting them off. But don’t let fear control your life.
I want to do what’s right for me. I want to feel that warmth again.