One of my big secrets (but only to myself) as I work in the hospital settting is that I, too, have an illness. Migraines. Lots of them. It's taken me many years to admit it. Not complain about it mind you, just admit it and stop keeping the secret from myself. For most of the thirty years I've had them, I've adopted an attitude more like "well, I have them now, but as soon as..." Having tried a number of avenues to cure them; meditation, medication, rest, reflection, pressing on anyway, I decided yesterday to draw a line in the sand. In my backyard, I keep a small, raku-fired ceramic box with a lid. The lid has a wonderful pattern of squares and triangles drawn into it, colored in blacks, viridians and turquoise and all hatched over with the spidery black cracks from the raku firing. I've adopted this box as a place to store small messages to be sent into the ether. The writer Anne Lamott refers to this sort of container as "God's in-box" That's pretty much how I think about it. I'm not sure exactly how this force beyond me receives my slips of paper, but years of placing folded notes into God's box have taught me it works. Why it had never occured to me to put the migraines in, I'll never know. So, when I drew my line, in went the scrap of notepaper with my special word.
I didn't notice anything right away, but today several things are cropping up. I'm writing again, and the lines under my eye are easing. I've given my headaches a name: "Marge"--like Marge Dursely who populates the Harry Potter books; big, overbearing, and awkward, putting her elbows and words into everything. The biggest change I've noticed is kindness. Today, I'm giving Marge a seat at my table.