Lessons From a Headache
I think this migraine is trying to tell me something
As I write this, it’s a beautiful sunny Friday morning. I’m sipping a cup of hot tea. The windows are open, letting in the crisp air and the full outdoor soundscape: squirrels chattering, birds chirping, hammers pounding, saws buzzing. (Lots of construction going on in our neighborhood these days.)
I woke up thinking I’d write a giddy post about the delicious sense of freedom I get when the kids go back to school and I have the house all to myself, allowing me to temporarily deactivate Parent Mode and float fully away into the flow of ideas and words and images.
Then I felt the migraine coming on.
Why? WHY did it have to come TODAY, on this day I was so looking forward to? I’m fortunate that, for me, these headaches aren’t totally debilitating, but they are quite unpleasant. Specifically, looking at screens always makes the queasy discomfort worse.
In a way, though, it kind of feels appropriate? Or at least reflective of how this whole summer has been. It just… wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I wanted carefree, relaxing days at home. I wanted reading in the hammock and walks in the woods. I wanted picnics and lake-swimming and frozen desserts.
To be fair, I did get some of those things! But I also had:
Not nearly enough writing/quiet time
Plenty of existential worry and dread over the state of the world
Lots of travel on two fun but not-at-all restful vacations (to Victoria BC and to California/Nevada to visit family) and one intense, life-altering group therapy retreat
The feeling of perpetually scrambling to keep up at my day job between vacations while my workload was extraordinarily high, and my manager prepared to retire, and our department was absorbed by another—a whole lot of sudden change in a part of my life that has always been pretty stable
Several ambitious sewing projects (my son and I are going to see Beyoncé in concert this coming week, so we must adorn ourselves in our finest silver garments to present ourselves to the Queen! But we had nothing that fit the bill, so we spent weeks scouring thrift stores and sewing our own pieces to wear to the show. Ultimately satisfying, but time-consuming and stress-inducing for a not-fashionably-inclined person like myself)
The lovely experience of changing a flat tire on the side of a busy highway after a much-more-strenuous-than-expected family hiking trip
A huntress cat who kept proudly bringing mice inside the house, some of which were dead (or close) and some still alive and terrified, which resulted in lengthy mouse rescue missions
In short, today’s headache feels like part of a pattern: I expect something to be restful, rejuvenating, fun, or freeing—and then, for whatever reason, it doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.
I’m tempted to go straight into the old “keep your chin up, it’s not so bad!” mental pep talk. Okay, yes, it’s not SO bad. And also, it sucks and I’m disappointed. Both things can be true.
I’ve been trying to get in the habit of listening and responding to my body instead of constantly ignoring its signals. When I look at it from that perspective, it’s pretty obvious to me what this migraine is communicating.
I’ve been writing about rest way more than I’ve actually been resting.
So many things are changing all of a sudden, and I’m scared.
It’s time to pay attention to what is happening within.
So, instead of plowing ahead on my To Do list, I’m going to lie down, rest my eyes, and try not to get too distracted by the sweet sounds of pounding hammers.
I plan to take next week off from this space so that I can ease into my new routines. Looking forward to catching up with you after the equinox! 🧡