“These are the times that try men’s souls”– Thomas Paine
It was there staring at the ceiling that I realized what trouble I was in. Being pumped into were drugs I’ve only heard of in news stories for their role in the recent opioid epidemic. I can be honest, there was part of me that was scared of what could happen to me as a result of these addictive substances, but at least for the moment, it made the sharp pain in my back and chest fade away. This though is the least of the pain, the one that has so much easier to manage.
When you’re hurt you become very acquainted with the ceilings of whatever room you are in. Flat, clean, colored, and pockmarked, each had to have been planned to look uniform and unoffensive to the eyes. It’s in them that I been thrust into these quiet moments, a standard silence that can turn into a mania of the mind attempting to quell the thoughts and energies that were left unspent during the day.
It was easy when I slept most of the day, where I would close my eyes and hours would drift away as my body focused on healing the muscles and bones that I disrupted when I decided to play with hunks of metal and concrete. Even when I left that sterile place, and made it back into a bed of my choosing sleeping was easy, regardless of the several hour intervals, I would be required to awake and take a dose to keep to the pain from getting any worse. I was not afraid of this pain, pain of the body I can deal with as I have all my life. My tolerance for this pain is high because I know I can always push through it. It’s in the echoes of my mind that issues arise.
It’s when sleep when not would come and that my mind wandered that this second sense of fear arose. I had beaten the drugs that threatened to hold me down but what would help me now in this time of need. In a darkly lit room, minutes feel like hours as the stimulus of the plain white ceiling would never be enough. My go to would be to reach to my phone for some reprieve, but I know that the LED screen would take more from me than it would give. The echos of pain as I had nothing else to think about would resonate until all I could feel was the bruising on my back, and the inability to breath.
I have laid there wishing that I had spent more time learning to meditate and praying that the quiet would return. In the wee hours of the morning when no one has any business being up, I would sit there staring at the ceiling, thinking about life, liberty, and where my happiness my now lies. The one consolidation is that I am crazy enough to tilt at windmills so as thoughts would come I promised myself to explore them. Once I allowed these thoughts to come and sat there with them for a while they became less painful and more pleasant. Like concentrated daydreams, thoughts manifest without the worry of everyday reality to bog it down. The ceilings drift away as my mind was allowed to paint the picture it wanted and dance as it needed. Sleep became easy because I was not worried or scared of these thoughts anymore, they are part of the process as I learned to enjoy them.
Pain itself is only a hindrance if is seen as unnatural or antithetical to the process of healing. Though some pain is immense it a reminder that my body is hurt and there is healing needing to be done. So embrace the pain as part of the process, see it as a testament of strength because each day that passes and we push forward our lives will fill the void that the pain has wrought.
I want to end with another quote, the poem Invictus about the struggles of being brought bare and not letting yourself be destroyed by the circumstances we had found ourselves.
Out of the night that covers me,– William Ernest Hendley
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.