We were thrilled when a couple that is very good friends of ours said they wanted to join us at Houstons. The girl friend part of this couple also suffers from a great deal of chronic pain. She asked me last night how I manage to go out even when I don't feel so well. I explained to her that it would have been easier for me to stay in. After all we could have rented a movie and talked and laughed all we wanted to right at home. I could have even saved myself the trouble of getting ready and stayed in my pajamas. But that's just the thing. Nate had been dealing with frumpy pajama girl all week. He loves me even when I'm acting like an insoportable viejita en mis pijamas. But it's nice to remind him (and more importantly me) that I'm still the fun sexy girl that he fell in love with. So I put on a nice dress, blow dried my hair, and did my make-up just like the best make-up artist I know taught me. When I was done a funny thing happened, I started feeling better. When Nate saw me and told me how great I looked, my pain lessened even more. My awareness of the pain continued to decrease and by the time our friends joined us at Houstons I had no awareness of my pain. I don't mean to pretend that the pain disappears. But pain can only affect you when you are aware of it. If your focus is elsewhere you simply don't notice it. As the night continued, we did a great deal of laughing and a funny thing happened. My girl friend noticed that she didn't feel her pain anymore either.
What I've learned is that even when you have an illness or pain, life goes on. You can either find a way to be part of life, or miss out on some potentially pretty great moments. The key for me is to just mentally prepare to get myself ready to go out the door. I think of it as giving myself my very own kick in the ass. I'll wake up in the morning and think oh today I promised I was going to do (insert activity). Next I have a little discussion with myself that goes something like this:
"Oh maybe I can get out of it, people will understand. No Maria, you're going to go out, be part of life, and you're going to freaking enjoy it! So when it's time, go and get ready and then go have some fun. Yes, I know, forced fun, poor you."
If you were wondering how to properly kick yourself in the ass when life is giving you an opportunity to relish in the experience of being fully alive - that's how it's done my friends. And you know what, I've never looked back on times spent in the company of others, enjoying my aliveness, and thought...I wish I had stayed home in my pajamas.