Migraine sufferers use many tactics to try to lead a migraine-free life. And no two are quite the same. Some take prescription medication daily to prevent attacks. Others pop four ibuprofen and chug a Mountain Dew to get through. Many pay close attention – once that aura begins, they will act fast or must rely on others to get home safely. Others are like me. I hide out with my headache hat until the pain, fog, nausea, and exhaustion subside.
No matter the tools in my kit, I cannot avoid this hindrance to daily life. I’ve lived with migraines for twelve years now. And I’ve learned that the migraine community is much like the infertility community: both cannot be understood by outsiders. Unless you’ve lived it, you can only guess how it feels.
Because of this, we within these communities do not flippantly throw information at each other. We know how overwhelming it feels to try anything to find relief, so we don’t give suggestions purely for the sake of filling space.
People are too uncomfortable to sit together in each other’s pain. We offer a quick fix, then return to our regularly-scheduled program. But that’s not how life issues work. When we are impatient to find the good, we miss the value of the pain we experience.
People who can’t understand often try to fix us. They mean well, and sincerely want to help, but life issues are not fixed with trending platitudes. “Just relaxing” will get me pregnant no sooner than drinking a gallon of water each day will clear me of migraines. Yes, relaxation is important. And water is necessary for life! But those ideas do not consider the intricacies of my personal situation. And therein lies the crutch of our culture today.
When I consider my recent struggles—relinquishing control through infertility, losing our first child to miscarriage, living at the mercy of the weather with my migraines, the anxiety of postpartum life, and making intimate friends in my thirties, to name a few—I cannot help but remember how God brought me through. Each one. And He taught and is *still* teaching me more through those problems than He ever would if life was easy.
In Psalm 30:5 David said, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Ecclesiastes 3 specifies “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Not only is there a time to laugh and a time to dance, but there is a dedicated time to weep and a time to mourn. That shows me that I can’t truly experience joy in this life without experiencing sorrow. The night is not only inevitable, but crucial to finding joy in the morning.
I am pursuing my physical health – whether that pertains to my head or my womb. I don’t need tips or problem-solving. What I really need is for someone to be with me in my heart ache when that other person will not be comfortable, may not understand, and probably won’t know what to say or do.
I want to be a friend like that. One who isn’t work for the other. One who listens when I have no answers. One who knows that I cannot fix the other. One who will keep accountable and be kept accountable. One whose presence is refreshing. To do so, I need to be present in my friends’ lives—through births, deaths, planting, uprooting, hurting, healing, breaking down, building up, weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing… and so on (Ecclesiastes 3).
No person needs to fix me. I am not a puzzle to solve. I am a flawed human who can only be fixed by my Lord. And I may never be physically “fixed” this side of heaven. But I long for friends who can sit with me in the moments that are uncomfortable. When we cannot understand the other’s plight, but love and respect them enough to not throw a platitude at their pain.
Let’s work to be friends like that.
Written by: Leah Honnen Leah Honnen is a wife, momma, and infertility warrior living in Jacksonville, IL. She works part-time and volunteers at her church, but loves spending free time fixing up her pre-1920s home with her husband, John. Leah writes on the lessons she continues to learn in daily life – through infertility, motherhood, music, friendships, and more at www.flowinghonnens.com.