Pinching my own Cheek

The last few weeks have been the kind when I know I am alive because there’s so much going on but I can barely feel my own skin.

It happens, to everyone, at some point. If you are like me, you’ll get a chance to stop for a moment and pinch your own cheek, just so you can feel the blood flow back, affirmation that you are alive. Sometimes I wish I knew a better way to get the same results.

My body seems to shift from severe neuropathic pain – periods when I experience severe pain as a result of both my illness and the medication I have to take to control it – and Peripheral Idiopathic neuropathy, periods when I cannot feel my extremities or experience pain in those areas. It can be a vicious cycle, one that is confusing even to me.

While all this is happening all the other stuff in my life; work, writing, friends, even faith seem to be some kind of routine just to keep me going. If I let it go on too long, then everything can be about my illness and lots of important stuff are neglected.

That’s why I need to stop for a moment and pinch my own cheek. Of course, sometimes I let too much time go by before doing that, and I might seem insensitive, or uncaring. Which is why I am glad that along with everything else that I was given, I got a bunch of special people to remind me when it’s time to pinch my own cheek.

Sometimes, I might ignore even them, in which case, we have a pre-arranged agreement that they will pinch my cheek for me. I might flare up, and maybe huff around for a few minutes, but deep down inside, I know that ‘my special people’ love me and only want the best for me. So I’ll probably calm down and start to listen.

I hope you have your pinch-your-cheek routine and your ‘special people’ too, because there is nothing so bad as being engrossed in your own thoughts and worries that you can’t stop to smell the flowers, and to make the world a better place.

I stopped to take in the beautiful scent of two flowers in the last two weeks.

I realised how very much I am proud of my daddy, his strength, his unique perception, and his choice to share his mind with me.

I think it is just as important for me to acknowledge a very special friend who has been by my side the last few weeks, offering support when I need and want it, acknowledging my concerns and not judging the choices I have had to make over the last few weeks.

I have second guessed myself a lot this past year. It helps to have someone who is removed enough to think straight but invested enough to listen and sometimes help me work a logic algorithm through my options. Thank you, Mr. Algorithm.

My mum always tells me that I should use what I have to make the world, my little corner of the world, a much better place. I intend to. Sometimes, however, the values that society seems to approve of and even laud can come into direct conflict with my own values and wishes. It is easy to get confused, even to imagine that my choices are wrong, or weak.

I try to think that these moments of pain are meant to remind me of the choices I made a while back. Never ever to imagine that being strong means that I must push other people to the ground and trample on their dreams to get my way. And always to ensure that my choices make the world around me a better place in the long run.

I also try to use these moments of pain to remind myself that I am really not looking for the world en masse to approve of my choices. After all, I am in fact the only one who can understand my pain. Therefore I am the only one who can decide what to do with it.

Here’s what I am going to do with it: I am going to use it to become a better person.

© Juliet Maruru 2012


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