NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, The Healing Project.
I usually try to be upbeat in these blog posts, but today I need to rant about a frustrating ongoing challenge… As I write this, I am suffering from my ninth migraine headache this month! I just had a migraine on Wednesday and I am so frustrated that I am afflicted with yet another one just two days later.
I track my migraines and have found that my monthly average is seven to eight headaches. They vary in terms of severity, so I am not always completely debilitated by the pain, but it does adversely affect my life in a multitude of ways. Since I’ve been living with migraines for 25 years now, I’ve learned to adapt and do as much as I can through the pain. Yet, although I am able to “grin and bear it” for much of the time, I am more than ready to release this dreaded condition.
Many Potential Remedies, No Lasting Solution
Over the years, I’ve tried many, many potential remedies to become free of these devastating, throbbing headaches. I’ve taken numerous prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, tried bottle after bottle of supplements, eliminated various foods from my diet, and visited a long list of medical professionals, both traditional and alternative. There have been pockets of relief along the way, but these reprieves have been short-lived at best. My migraines are like a broken record that keeps playing its tired song over and over again, month after month, and year after year.
I’ve mentioned a “laundry list” of health issues that I am working to heal through my healing project. Some of these challenges have cycled in and out of my life, while others plague me for only a short time period before miraculously disappearing just as quickly and mysteriously as they materialized. But the one problem which has accompanied me on my life path since the age of eighteen has been the migraines. So I’m guessing that the lesson I need to learn from this tired and tireless ailment is the most important one of all! The Universe keeps literally rapping me over the head because I continue to fail to get the message!
Louise Hay’s Views on Migraines
What does the abundantly wise Louise Hay say about migraines? When I read these excerpts from “You Can Heal Your Life”, I wonder how she could know me so well when we haven’t even met:
“Migraine headaches are created by people who want to be perfect and who create a lot of pressure on themselves.”
“Dislike of being driven. Resisting the flow of life.”
If you were to look up “perfectionist” and “control freak” in the dictionary, you would see… my picture! I’m kidding, of course, but that’s not far from the truth. I have tried to relax and go with the flow more in life, but I’ve found it difficult to change this aspect of my personality. I’m the type of person who writes a lot of lists and tries to pack as many tasks as possible into a given day. Despite these practices, I never feel I accomplish enough and am riddled with self-doubt and fears of failure. I often speak of myself in derogatory terms and find it hard to let myself off the hook when I don’t live up to my self-defined expectations.
My healing project is helping me to become more aware of my thoughts and my self-talk. It is now clear to me that not only am I extremely hard on myself; it comes with a very high price – my health. I realize that my migraines and other health challenges are a type of spiritual “kick in the pants” to show me how important it is for me to change.
Headaches and Invalidating the Self
When writing about headaches in general, Louise Hay states the following:
“Headaches come from invalidating the self. The next time you get a headache, stop and ask yourself where and how you have just made yourself wrong. Forgive yourself, let it go, and the headache will dissolve back into the nothingness from where it came.”
My problem is that I make myself wrong for the same “offenses” over and over again. I beat myself up for the lack of material success in my life, for not living up to my potential, for not being a good wife (or family member or friend), and for a number of other affronts I’ve committed toward those in my life, myself, and even God. I often feel that I’ve wasted my God-given talents by being indecisive and not sticking with a singular career path. I also feel guilty for not being sufficiently grateful for the many blessings in my life and for continuing to dwell on insignificant things like the size of my thighs and the frizziness of my hair.
The Inner Tyrant…
My critical inner voice is like an unrelenting tyrant. I once had a school assignment to keep track of negative self-talk for a day. I’m sure I didn’t capture all of it, but what I did write down was mind-boggling. My ratio of positive to negative messages is abysmal. Once in a while, a compliment manages to make its way into my mind, but it is quickly drowned by the sea of criticism surrounding it.
I invalidate myself all of the time – and it’s killing me. As I write this, I am fully present to the cost of my “stinkin’ thinking.” Something’s gotta give! I need to forgive myself, start talking much more nicely to myself (I’ve improved in recent months, but I’ve done some backsliding as of late), and treat myself with more respect and kindness. I wouldn’t wish my internal negativity on my worst enemy!
Resisting Meditation and Silence
I’ve recently been reading the best-selling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved reading about her indulgence and enjoyment in Italy, but found myself less enthralled by her time of reflection, meditation, and silence in India. I could in no way picture myself meditating for hours and hours each day or scrubbing floors as part of a “retreat.” Although she was striving for inner peace and connection with the Divine, my thought was that it wasn’t worth the price of admission, especially without an iron-clad guarantee for results.
As I reached the end of the India section of the book, however, I experienced a change of heart. I wondered what it would be like to live even one day (heck, even one hour) of my life without the constant inner chatter and self-recrimination. I decided that I want that! I know that there are many paths to peace and many roads to salvation. My path may not be the same as Elizabeth Gilbert’s. My path may not take me to an ashram in India. I know that I may not even have to leave my hometown to reach the state of freedom I so profoundly desire.
Claiming my Freedom
It’s been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Perhaps my throwing my hands up in desperation tonight at yet another migraine is that step. It’s possible that I am ready to forgive myself and let go of the need to be perfect – from this moment on. Peace and freedom for me lie within, not without. I just need to claim it…