Sometimes she developed these excruciating multi-day headaches. She would wake up in the middle of the night with one and it would invariably stay long enough for her to consider charging it rent. Her marathon headaches, she called them.

For several days, one or both eyes would be wet with crushing pain, her jaw would be swollen with tenderness and she would sporadically grab and pull at her neck and arms and sides in an effort to rub out all the sharp stabs of hurt that traversed her body to her tender head. Everything in her world would fuzz up beyond what was right in front of her and it would take all of her energy to simply push through any immediate task. Every gesture and movement, every word, became a huge effort. She would live on a diet of Motrin for a while and feel generally tortured by the endless days and nights of agony.

It never occurred to her to take off from work and rest on these days. She had grown up thinking that she needed to muscle through and stay in the fight every single day.

And right now, in the middle of one of her marathon headaches, she really wanted to talk to the person who taught her that. Because she had a thing or two she wanted to say about the wisdom of that thinking. Then she realized she didn’t need to talk to that person anymore. She just needed to forge a new way to muscle through: one that involved being kind to herself this time around.


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