Twice, this blog, LadyMigraine, was used against me in the most heinous, unimaginable ways. Once at work (see the entry “An Open Letter”). Once within my family-in-law, to punish my sweet, deeply damaged husband, heretofore known as SirMigraine. After his brief resulting stint in a psychiatric unit, things became more and more tenuous at home as I desperately tried to get us on Medicaid, and worked in earnest on my application for Social Security Disability Benefits, and managed to celebrate Christmas… and I could not write. I could not express myself as LadyMigraine anymore, even though I am, more than ever, suffering and wanting to share. I just couldn’t bring myself to possibly give anyone else ammunition to use against my family. For example, Sir interviewing for a great job. “Ah – we see here your wife has a blog – a, uh, ‘Lady Migraine?’ She sure sounds… like she, uh, takes up a lot of your time with that headache thing there.” My blog has been tainted. It has caused pain. Even if I try to think about how in a way, the resulting changes were for good, it is hard to throw more entries out there, to give unseen enemies more ways to hurt us.
Then, the woman I’ve been friends with for longer than anyone else (of course we had our ins and outs and ups and downs, we were 13 when we met) suddenly lost her husband of 17 years. There was no warning. It happened in the middle of the night, early Christmas Eve morning. This friend is the kind of friend who knows me better than anyone other than my mother and my brother. This is the kind of friend I would drop anything for, lickety split, the moment she needed me. And she needed me. And I went to her. I brought her books we’d loved, a stuffed animal we’d shared, stones I hoped were infused with some sort of healing magic. I went to the viewing and sobbed when I saw she’d had to have an open casket after all. I’d been in their wedding, fighting bitterly with my almost-ex boyfriend and wearing a beautiful gown of plum. I cried. I went to the funeral. I cried. Another bridesmaid had come up from Kentucky and we held each other up. Their one daughter. Not fair. Nothing is fair ever. This in particular was not fair.
I text her every day. I read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking so that I could better understand what she’s going through, then I gave the book to her to keep. My friend, she’s always been the strongest woman I’ve ever known. My friend has the City in the palm of her hand. When she is back at work, it’s as close to peace as she’s going to find. Yesterday, she asked a favor of me. She asked me to write. She’s been reading my writing since we were 13, when I crafted ridiculous fantasies about our lives as a way to escape our lonely, awkward ones. She said in an eloquent text today, “I’d love to see you consider doing something with your writing. You have a gift… you want healing for me and I want it for you as well.”
Who could read that without taking it with the utmost seriousness? We had just been smacked with how temporary life is, after all. And other friends, people I trust, my husband, had recently been encouraging me too. Don’t wait any longer. Write what you know. Use your headaches. Do it.
Here are the first attempts: you can find most of my autobiographical fiction within this blog:
The Migraine Diaries
Tiny little head, big bed. Diffuse curtain light too bright. Is it supposed to feel this way? Drifting miniature fairies dance the length of the beam. “Dust,” mama whispers, pressing the cool cloth gently across my forehead. It hurts more on the other side, but I don’t tell her. I close my stinging eyes, then open them quickly in astonishment. It HURTS. Wait – why? Did I hit my head outside in the chicken coop where there are no chickens? Did the doggie knock me down? Focusing briefly again on the bright stripe and its dust angels – o no not there – quickly look away at a dark corner and notice to my astonishment they are still there, even out of the pain-light. Clear, dancing squiggles. Blink eyes. Still there. Mama still patiently pressing the middle of my forehead, but the cloth feels like ice cream Kleenex.
“Mama,” I murmur, trying not to let the pain and anxiety turn my voice to a whine, “The dust fairies are everywhere, even in the dark.” A deep sigh lifts her reassuring weight away for a moment. “Well honey I haven’t really had time-” Sudden silence. She sits up, removes the cloth, and looks at me for a long moment, her father’s torment newly fresh in her mind. “Look over there, sweetie.” She points at a blank wall.”Do you see them?” I nod, not knowing if this is the right answer. Mama sits still, her face flickering with thoughts and memories. “Do you see anything else, like – like blank spots or flashing lights?” I shake my head. Ouch. No.
Mama unfolds the damp washcloth and puts her whole young, pretty face in it, her auburn hair now catching the late afternoon stripe of sun. I squint and watch embers dance along its strands. How I want hair like my beautiful Mama’s. She lifts her head quickly, her mouth a straight line. “What side does your head hurt on, Samantha?” All of a sudden she understands that part of it and I try to smile, though somehow that hurts as well, and Mama does not respond.
“This side,” I say with relief, gesturing to the area above my left eye. Mama sighs again and re-folds the washcloth to the perfect size, placing it now directly over the pulse of pain, the pain that came from nowhere. She leans over me again, and I, and my pain, are home. “I so did not want this for you…” she whispers, and I don’t understand.