The house is disgusting, the worst offense is all the unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink from last Friday beginning to rot. And when I say all the unwashed dishes, I mean all of them. If I want to eat anything off a plate and with a fork or spoon, I have to wash them first.
It’s the result of five migraines in seven days, and thus, minimal functionality around here. And yet, today, I put on a new dress that I love, brushed my hair, and put mascara and lip gloss on, even though it felt like someone was carving out a hollow place behind my left eye with an ice pick and my stomach lurched with hunger and nausea. Half way through my morning meeting, I felt the Imitrex and Aleve I’d taken over an hour before start to work on the migraine. From 6:30am-11am, I somehow worked through what was a pretty bad migraine. I am not sure when I started forcing myself to live through them. I used to let them over take me, and I’d curl up in bed with a bowl to throw up in. At some point in my twenties, though, I stopped throwing up, at least with the majority of my migraines, and that meant all I had to power through was pain.
But the pain, it’s so uniquely awful, so grating and demoralizing. Especially when I have these strings of them. Pushing through them, getting Tima up and out the door for daycare, getting myself ready, going to work, requires a dissociation of my actions from my migraine. The bulk of my consciousness is consumed by the fire, so I sometimes mentally list off what I’m doing to confirm to myself that I’m still in my body. It really is an unreal experience.
By the end of the day, my migraine had lifted, the whether was gorgeous and warm, and I resolved to for a walk at West Cliff with Tima after I picked her up form daycare. I had this idea of how good it would feel to walk briskly with the ocean air in my lungs and the sun on my face. But Tima was squirrely and wanted to roam without holding my hand, and when I tried to put her in the stroller or up on my back, she totally flipped out. It was not the relaxing end to a stressful day that I wanted, but I suppose there were some compensatory moments — the way Tima would nearly burst with joy with every dog she saw, pointing and exclaiming either, “Dog!” or “Fuh-fuh” which is her “ruff-ruff.” I was able to remember to take precisely three deep, soothing breaths at three different times, which kept me basically out of baby resentment mode.
By the time we were done, Tima had calmed down in the carrier, and I took this selfie with the bay behind us and posted it to Facebook with this comment: “The day may have started with a migraine, i.e. it started sucky, but it ended with a walk on West Cliff, so there’s that.”
It’s not an untrue statement, but it is a little unreal. I didn’t feel significantly better after the walk, in fact, emotionally, I was disappointed and distraught that instead of chipping away at my accumulated stress, I got all wound up as my expectations collided with the reality of walking with a toddler at what is normally her dinnertime. I did spin it on Facebook, though, and I knew I was doing it.
Same thing with the dress and make-up this morning — I was being unreal, pretending the migraine wasn’t there. Still, at 37, with most of the things I want in life and no need to prove myself, I paint a picture of my happy, strong, resilient family, and we are that, a lot. But on days like today, when the house literally smells bad from unwashed dishes, when I can’t hardly get anything at all done, I wonder why keeping up appearances is something I value so much.