As a Migraine patient, I have become very sensitive about how people react to my disease and the attacks I live with each day. This means I can't always trust my gut reactions anymore. I have to think twice and double check my own reactions to be sure I'm not reading something negative where it doesn't belong. I don't want to be hurt without the opportunity to defend myself, but I also don't want to mistakenly hurt anyone else. I'm very sensitive to the feelings of others.
This whole scenario reminds me of a game we used to play as kids. We called it "Flinch." One person holds out their hands, palms down. Another person holds out their hands under the palms, with their palms facing up. They nearly touch each other. The goal is for the person with their hands underneath, to quickly flip them and slap the hands that are facing down before they can be pulled away. The game is a test of speed and reflexes.
I was very good at playing "Flinch."
Now that I have chronic Migraine, I sometimes have a right to get miffed because someone has said or done something thoughtless, or worse, said or done something knowing fully well it would be hurtful to me. This always catches me off guard, and I am easily hurt because it happens so frequently. The trick is taking those emotions and dealing with them the right way. I'm not always as good at this little trick as I'd like.
There is a saying about a penny and a perspective: No matter how flat you make them, they still have two sides, and both have the same value.
A recent "discussion" with my hubs about grocery shopping reminds me that there are times when I need to remember the other side of the penny and let hurtful things go.
In our case, Hubs came home with a bag full of boxed and bagged goodies he knows I love. He also knows they are on my no-no list of Migraine food triggers, and I beg him not to bring them home. I am very aware of my weaknesses. Because we are getting ready for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, and because I have been especially Migrainey lately, he knows that I am trying super hard to eat cleanly. I haven't made it to the grocery store because I'm not safe to drive, so all the shopping falls on him.
In this case, he was trying to do something nice. He wanted me to have something he knew we both liked, and because I have been so careful with my food triggers, he thought just once might not be a problem. He's just as frustrated as I am at our limited choices for dinner each night.
I didn't see it that way. In fact, after showing my enormous disappointment, he snapped back (totally out of character for him), throwing everything into the trash. I quietly walked out of the room to take a soothing, hot shower where I could go and wait for my meds to hit me and soothe my Migraine, and cry without an audience.
How could he have done that to me, knowing how hard it is for me right now to stay healthy? How could he have been so thoughtless?
Later that night we talked about what happened. As we were talking, I had to remind myself: it's not just my life that was forever altered when I got sick... it was his too.
He has a right to be upset. He has a right to want a normal life too. He has a right to get angry sometimes when he feels deprived because of my health issues. It's not fair for him to be the one that always does the listening and the soothing, and the comforting.
Hubs and I are in this together - partners in this life. Neither of us signed up for this, but it is what it is, so we deal with it. We're not always very elegant about it either. We're people. We're imperfect and we make mistakes. The important thing is that we work it out.
I write this today because I hope there are others out there who might benefit from the reminder I got last night. A person can get so used to playing "Flinch" with Migraine and the emotions, feelings and the complications that go with it, that we can forget that we're not just living our own story, but someone else's too.
I encourage everybody to take a moment out this week sometime, to do something special for someone we love. Not because they did anything in particular to deserve it, but because we, of all people, know how hard it is to live with Migraine.
There is pressure with helping care for someone who is sick. I'm going to try to take some time out to recognize that and try to ease it a little, even if it's only for a few hours.
What will you do to take some of the pressure off someone you care about? I'd love to see your ideas, so please post a comment below and share them with us.
Live your best life,
© Ellen Schnakenberg, 2013.
Last updated July 30, 2013.