December 2, 2014

Pollyanna has a Migraine.


If you had asked me how I feel, I would give you my standard answer:

“I’m good.”
“Everything is great!”
*insert pained smile

My enthusiasm vacillated with how much I wanted you to believe that I was actually okay.

It also vacillated with how much I wanted to believe that I was okay.

The real problems is that I have a migraine.

I also have chronic low back pain.

I also have IBS.

Oh, and I’m completely fucking miserable.

What I learned is this social mask made me incredibly sick.

My fine face created painful and real physical problems.

When I struggled with PTSD, I had plenty of physical symptoms.

Were they real? Absolutely.

Were they caused by my emotional trauma? Absolutely.

My emotional work is what cleared up my physical symptoms.

I did not need a doctor or a pill.

I needed to save my own soul.

It became so clear that the pre-PTSD physical problems that I struggled with were from emotional trauma as well.

I had to settle up with my emotional and spiritual bodies to be able to save my physical body.

Day after day of swallowing emotional pain, it will stick somewhere.

I swallowed my anger.

I swallowed my needs.

I swallowed my disappointment.

I swallowed my loneliness.

I swallowed my pain.

Those feelings were all absorbed into my body and created very painful problems.

The physical pain distracted me from the emotional pain but created its own hell.

People poo poo this notion and spend countless hours, dollars and energy proving that something is really wrong with them. Well, something is really wrong with you. And your body is trying to get you to listen.
The answer just isn’t always in your body.

Pain is the most patient creature.

It will wait for you.

It will wait 3 years.

It will wait 30 years.

It’s got no other place to be.

Pain will burn a hole clear through you.

It will rot you from the inside out.

It is unaffected by your rationalizations, dismissals and avoidance.

Actually, it will get annoyed at being ignored.

It starts to poke and prod you.

It really wants your attention.

Since you ignore it on the emotional level, it decides to move into the realm where you will give it attention: the physical.

So then you dutifully march off to buy bandaids, ibuprofen and make your doctor’s visits.

Your pain is so exasperated!


It ups the ante despite your diligence.

It persists as you resist.

It gets louder as you get quieter.

It has no means of moving on until you help it move on.

But even worse, pain is contagious.

You will breathe it onto everyone else.

You deserve your freedom from it. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 20 minutes or 20 years. This abandoned life cannot be a sprint from the pain. Because you can never successfully run from it. You’ve got to stop running and learn to deal with it.

We have got to create great practices around processing our pain.

We have to remember that swallowing it creates even more pain around us.

The pain that we are trying to run from then hurts our families and friends.

What we refuse to deal with, now they have to deal with.
At some point, it’s not even about caring for ourselves.

It’s about caring for others.

How do I raise happy, confident, optimistic and engaged children if I am angry, resentful, disconnected and exhausted?

How do I maintain a passionate, warm and loving relationship if I am vacant, distracted and avoiding my reality?

Am I really keeping all of these beliefs and paradigms to myself?

Or am I passing along the same poison that I swallowed?

Truly is caring for our loved ones means we must care for ourselves.

Deal with it.

Be brave.

Feel it.

Process it

Move through it.

Above all, seek help if you need it.

I wasn’t born with an inherent toolkit to effectively deal with my pain.

I had to develop the skills like I developed everything else in my life.

I created freedom through learning the tools to cope.


Eat healthy.



Get therapy.

Explore creative outlets.

Seek support.

Show self-compassion.

You can be your amazing self without pretending to be Pollyanna.

Lose your fine face.

Expose the darkness to light.

Do the work to live your authentic life.



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Author: Heather Sayers Lehman

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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Heather Sayers Lehman