There were bug bites all over my thighs, giant spots of red and angry, and I was hurting so badly I could hardly breathe. I winced and writhed like a child as you calmly listened to my frustration building in waves.
in a moment of blinding pain I remembered a technique I’d picked up as a child of focusing on different sensations to distract from pain of sprained ankles and stomach aches. I would drum my fingers against my arms, hit my forehead with the back of my hand, run cold water over my feet, and by luck or force of will or some genuine grain of truth in the poorly remembered advice, some secret magic, I learned to clench my jaw through anything.
‘does this feel better?’ I heard you ask in hardly more than a whisper, your fingers tracing the outline of where my tangled hair met my forehead. Front and back, side to side, over and over and over. I could only nod absently, focusing what will I had left on the movement of your hand over me, the way you smoothed out my creases, sunlight over a stormy sea. back and forth, slower now.
and as I focused all I had on that simple motion, the agony my legs soon seemed to me like a distant lighthouse burning through night fog, present but hardly perceptible until I could hardly remember what it felt like. and maybe it didn’t sound anything like he coping mechanisms my therapist taught me but that was but i can pinpoint down to the moment when i started seeing a light at the end of this tunnel.