There are times when my brain tells me it’s time to head out.
It’s a stilted conversation because often I am in another room, picking socks up off the floor. Or there’s spawn asking me where the snacks are, and if we could just eat bacon for dinner (just… bacon. nothing else) and I tend to just crane my neck and make quick eye contact with my brain in that “I’ll get to you in a min” look. I use that look also for things like:
- People who call me instead of texting. I don’t understand.
- Small repairs in my house that would take literally like 4 minutes but won’t get done until we move.
- My husband. Always the husband. It’s a mutual understanding.
My brain, after a bit of this, tends to hunker down into a place of mild disassociation that is pleasant and yet also ominous but that’s how I like to live my life I guess.
And then finally… my brain shrugs and says, “Well. I think it’s time for a migraine” and whammo. I finally decide to listen.
Except now I can’t listen because when I have a migraine listening (or seeing. or talking) is not available to me. They are faraway skills that are packed up in a red haze that is migraining.
In third grade, we had terrariums of hermit crabs in our classroom and one time I was trying to bond with my hermit crab, and I picked it up in my palm and its response to this was to pinch down on the skin between my thumb and forefinger. It would not let go. It did not want to bond. It wanted to sever some arteries.
We poured water on it and tapped its shell and I stared at it with growing panic as I realized the hermit crab and I were now one. I was too freaked out to process anything except that it hurt and my friends finally gave up and I just sat down, attached, and terrified. That’s kinda how it feels when I migraine comes.
That’s kind of a lousy analogy because migraines hurt more than Hermie did.
There are times in my life (kinda all the time) where I get super busy, with all sorts of deadlines and to-do lists and lots of stuff going on, and for the most part I’m ok. But sometimes I forget one small fact: My brain has feelings too. I can pack it all full of information and responsibilities and not forgetting to buy creamer at the store, but once in a while it wants to talk about its feelings. I think it wants to sit outside with me on the back stoop and say things like,
“What if I can’t do all this stuff very well at all?”
“What if this is all there is? These lists? The creamer? Forgetting the creamer?”
“Is time always going to be an opponent now? And when did that happen? I don’t remember what it was like before.”
“What if… What if I’m not good enough?”
Ignoring these conversations results in me having to sleep with four pillows on my head. So, when I finally can come up for air, post-migraine, God says things like, “Perhaps you should take a few things off that list, Dana. And also, I think bacon, and only bacon, for dinner sounds delicious. Vegetables can wait. And if they get slimy it’s the circle of life.”
Will I learn from this? Probably not. It’s the circle of life. I’ll manage myself, do the healthy things, make sure to get a run in, and get proper rest and do creative things… and then I’ll forget all that and get too busy and my brain and I will grow apart. Maybe writing about it here will help set a place for this. Maybe.
But what I can do is what I managed the morning after the migraine where I walked, a bit wobbly, down the hall to get a drink of water and look in the mirror. Hair wisping out on all sides. Eyes squinty. My head felt like a glass ornament and I held it very carefully on my shoulders. I looked at my reflection, all wobbly and fragile, and I took a breath. And I thought (or God thought in me):
“You are enough.”