Years ago, I woke to a terrible pain in my bowels. Lovely subject, eh? It was a constipated feeling but also like having a broom handle up my ass and out the end of my penis. (Not that I have experience with that sort of thing.) It came on as I slept and woke me slowly. It took minutes to understand that I was awake because of pain. It was mysterious to my sleepy mind every time it happened.
Also mysterious was what to do. At its worst, the pain bent me in half as I walked like a man with a broken back. I groaned, staggering through the house. I couldn't find comfort. This went on for hours.
The attacks went on for years. One night tea made me feel felt better. Water didn't help, nor did seltzer, but tea worked. I was grateful for relief. I was having attacks every other week, but finally had a solution. I just had to wait for the kettle to boil and drink a mug of tea.
I wondered about the cause of the condition. I hypothesized again and again until I found that bouts followed workouts when I had sweat tremendously.
By now, years had passed since the first episode. It had been a year since I discovered the comfort of tea. Still, the workout theory wasn’t complete. Some nights after a workout I was fine. Others I was lost to pain. Then I realized the attacks followed sweaty workouts after which I forgot to drink water. Dehydration, that was the cause.
Ding, ding. Finally, I had a winner.
Yesterday at the gym I did forty minutes on the elliptical and twenty on the stairs. I finished, drenched in sweat, and then didn't drink any water all night. At half past midnight I awakened to pain. I made and drank tea, things relaxed, and I went back to sleep reminding myself to drink some damn water from now on.
It takes time to figure out a problem. My first attack was fifteen years ago. The tea solution came nine years later. I’ve understood the dehydration for only eighteen months. All that time. Finding a way through has been hit or miss. And this was just a minor, though annoying, problem.
Figuring out what to do with my life is far more complex and mysterious. I've spent three years panicked that I don't yet have it figured out. Not being able to solve it had me feeling broken and stupid. It turns out, I just haven't arrived at the solution. This is going to take time.
I'm tired from being up late waiting for the tea. This morning I didn't want to get up, but I wanted to write. It's the tea to get me through pain and discomfort of not yet knowing what to do. Already, typing these words, I’m comforted.
A few months from now I'll forget to drink water and come awake needing tea and time to let pain pass. I’ll know what to do and will make it through the discomfort.
Tomorrow I just might wake feeling the pain of anxiety, wondering what to do with this life of mine. I'll come to the keyboard and write understanding that the clock isn't ticking against me so much as moving alongside I'm getting there one word at a time, writing on and on.