Its morning, I seemed to have slept all night. But why does my entire body ache? I feel like I have the flu. I think I slept all night; I don’t remember being awake but I am exhausted. 

 

Today is no different than yesterday – or tomorrow. I am a model for successful women; not quite 60 but well beyond 50, impressive resume verifiable achievements. Poster Woman – Accomplished – Miserable. Can it be I am the only woman who feels this way?

 

  • Body rebellion has overwhelmed me;
  • The demon Pain is inside my head, my body – as long as I can remember;
  • Start the coffee; finish swift the first rituals;
  • Pets fed, swishing chemical capsules and tablets with thick black caffeine, first ounces from the pot;
  • Stay the Pain demons from escape today.
  • Can I do this one more day?

 

There is a board meeting; reports to review and complete. Why do I always seem to wait until the very last minute to “start?” Am I a procrastinator or am I paralyzed in some way? It doesn’t matter – no one knows the buoyant and brilliant façade is a thin and delicate veneer – not reality. Its three-thirty a.m.  I am only now beginning the perfect work-product that is due today. Dark morning hours turn into day. Oh my God – I should be ready for work and leaving for the office now; where did the time go – print faster – printer is my nemesis now – I can’t be late. I haven’t dallied really; every waking hour is and has been consumed by the demands of success. I work late and rise early. Why do I constantly feel mentally apologetic? Logic prevails and I suppress the sensation; and enable my hyper-committed professional-self. Not “perfect” is running through my brain over and over – It’s not perfect, I’m not perfect – someone is going to bust me today – see through to my brain. My mind is racing, my body is racing, and the demon Pain is chasing me.
Commitments or the ability to commit is not my deficiency. Hyper-commitment is my archenemy but the determination it induces is the measure of my personal standard. Career. Is it supposed to be enjoyable? Passion is the Nuevo-synonym for career. I envy women with “passion” not heavily laced with obsessive-compulsive.   What would unaccompanied “passion” feel like? Could “my personal best” ever be enough? Can success even be achieved without hyper-commitment? Is it possible to excel without the Demons and their arsenal, the Pain?
By means of flawlessly disguised nanoseconds to recover thoughts, snippets of information too far in my unconscious to articulate, I am skilled at perception-deception. Is my brain beginning to succumb to its’ excruciating host? No one seems to notice as my brain whirs and churns for the next cognitive delivery. Carefully crafted gestures and creative verbal trickery hide my loss for words. The necessity for deception is exhausting and escalating.  Which painful demon is dominant today? Obsessed with ideas; obsessed to accomplish never-ending tasks?  Or compulsive second-guessing; compulsive review; or compulsive editing of thought, task and end result? Are the incessant muscle spasms distracting my cognitive spirit; are my seemingly bone-on-bone joints reigning supreme? Keep moving, perception-deception is achieved by motion, often repetative.  
What word was used before stress became the epithet for my demons? When survival meets obsession, or compulsive and panic create their own synergy; the result is greater than the sum of their individual angst. Is that stress?  Success should look effortless, flawless execution the perception, and continuous motion is the inner mantra of the obsessed. Is hyper-commitment, added to paralyzing thought processes and constant pain the definition of stress? In retrospect is it that our bodies are in fact a gauge to give us insight as to our psychological destructiveness? Is stress considered an invisible catalyst or catch-all that delivers torture to people like me?
Decades of pain, personal and professional survival, obsessive – compulsive behavior and denial define my journey. As the years passed, times when the body could no longer be pushed, medical emergencies created benchmarks; reminiscent of particularly difficult periods. Emergency room visits, end in extended hospital stays. Logic to recognize critical illness over the familiar Pain is non-existent.   Symptoms acknowledged only when they absolutely cannot be denied. Why didn’t I ever hear a diagnosis? Why did the question, “how are you” always precipitate an “I am fine” response?   Why did denial prevent me from asking for help? Always, the immediacy of the emergency would mandate medications prescribed; and life resumes without a second thought. The excesses of the mind would take-up where they left off with the reality of survival; keep moving, perception deception.  
Having done so well at demonstrating the facade of strength, I’ve created an image of myself; if within my power “It” whatever “It” is, can and will be accomplished. Maturity has taught me there are things I cannot do. Although I admit to being able to count on one hand the number of things I have truly accepted as beyond me; brain surgery and arguing before the United States Supreme Court. Consequently, age and the ever present Pain are making it increasingly difficult to function at the same pace I did twenty, ten, or even one-year ago. 
There is and always have been medical reasons for the Pain and obsession I thought only applied to me. I have denied the expert opinions, the words associated with my painful existence. At least two physicians have given me diagnoses which I perceived as labels and therefore buried them in my subconscious. When absolutely necessary, my modus operandi was to seek the “magic pill” or “magic advice” and quickly move on. 
People often refer to me as talented, strong, independent, creative, resourceful, determined, tough, tenacious, and strong-minded. My adjectives are heavy baggage and painful – and counter intuitive to my opinion of the labels. What I knew about my diagnoses is they didn’t match my adjectives – therefore they must be inaccurate. The diagnoses were insulting to me, my work ethic and belief system. 
How do I change a lifetime of behavioral conditioning? What is the magic pill for hyper-commitment? Do I become an adverb or a twelve-step program?
  • I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • I am profoundly Obsessed with creating, developing & profection 
  • I Compulsively run scenarios, numbers, situations, etc., in my head
  • Compulsive behavior results in paralysis by analysis – not procrastination
  • My Pain is not an imagined succession of demons, it is called Fibromyalgia
  • I am so unremarkable as to have Undifferentiated Connective Tissue disease  
  • Pain is an indicator not merely an inconvenience
  • Exhaustion means rest now – not upon collapse
  • I am not losing my mind when I feel like I am in a fog
  • Settlement between my inner adjective and my physical limitations is crucial
  • I will plan better, and react less – rinse & repeat
  • I am a conundrum
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