a decade of pain

I haven’t yet posted about this journey that I have been on over the past six months. It’s a very personal journey, but I feel it’s one worth sharing.

Ten years ago, I lost one of my best friends to cancer. Just weeks before we graduated from high school. Just weeks after her eighteenth birthday. I was devastated.

Krissi was truly one of the most incredible people I have ever known. Her strength throughout her four year battle with cancer was inspiring. Her positive attitude, never once complaining, is one to which I aspire.

Despite the intense pain and utter heartbreak of losing a best friend at such a young age, I saw God work in some amazing ways. Krissi relied on her Savior, Jesus Christ, for peace. And that peace she had was so evident and so contagious to all those around her that Krissi was bringing people to Christ just days before she passed away.

I watched her take her last breath.

I don’t wish that on anyone. But as horrific as it was, I was able to see a child of God pass from this earth to the hands of her heavenly Father. From death to life. Eternal life with Christ. In heaven where she would experience no more pain, no more suffering, no more heartache.

Yet I was left with heartache. And with no way to deal with it.

I repressed all my emotions. Life had to go on, right? We had to graduate and go on to college. What was the point of sitting around crying about it, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

Did you know that when you cry about something there are chemicals released in your body that allow you to begin to heal? Well, I bottled all my intense emotion, grief, and heartache… and they had no way to escape.

Until they did. Through some very serious back pain.

For the past ten years – the past decade – I have experienced an intense pain in one specific spot on the left, middle side of my back. It began shortly after I arrived at the University of Texas for my freshman year of college. I will never forget the pain becoming so intense late one night that I called my parents, tears streaming down my cheeks, not knowing what to do. And they seriously contemplated flying me home.

my view of the UT Tower from my window of the Pi Phi house

The pain wasn’t always so intense. Some days worse than others. Some hours better than the next.

But it would always return. A constant nagging. I never knew when it would come or when it would go… just knew it always would.

Throughout those years I saw dozens of doctors and specialists. I tried chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, physical therapy, spinal decompression, got X-Rays, MRIs, had blood drawn. You name it, I tried it.

And nothing. The pain persisted.

Until one glorious day when I found myself halfway across the country, living in LA, pursuing my passion of acting. A friend of mine told me about a holistic doctor she was seeing for some shoulder pain she was having. She mentioned something about how her pain was emotional and this doctor was a genius.

I wasn’t really sure exactly what she meant by that… Her pain was emotional? All I knew is that she seemed really enthusiastic about him, he seemed to have helped her immensely, and I had seemed to try everything else I could possibly think of.

Bottom line, I was at my wits end. I would honestly try anything.

So I made a phone call and went to my first appointment with Dr. George Byrnes that truly changed my life. Before the appointment I filled out more paperwork with more questions than I can remember. I answered the usual questions about my medical history and my physical pain, in great detail.

But then there were some questions that struck me as odd. They were questions about my emotion pain. Huh.

The dozens of doctors I had seen had only ever cared to know about any physical trauma I had experienced. They never cared to know about any emotional trauma I had experienced.

When Dr. Byrnes asked me to tell him about what I went through ten years ago, my reaction shocked me. My throat knotted up. My eyes welled with tears. I literally couldn’t speak.

All I could do was sob.

And that’s when Dr. Byrnes told me that my pain was not physical. It was emotional. And then he told me something that no other doctor had ever told me. Five little words:

“There is hope for you.”

And then five more:

“You will live pain free.”

No sooner than those ten words left his lips did I begin to cry a different kind of tears – tears of gratitude, of relief, of hope. Yet sadly, to my core, I didn’t believe him.

I wanted to so badly. But I mentally and physically couldn’t. It makes me think of those lyrics from that song Light the Fire, “My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak.” My body chemistry was at a place that because I had experience such intense pain for so long – more than a third of my life to be exact – that my brain truly couldn’t believe that I could ever live without the pain.

But Dr. Byrnes confidently told me that I would. It would take some time. But I would be pain free. One day. And that was all I needed to begin my journey of healing.

And I am so beyond thrilled to say that today I am almost 100% pain free. It has been a long road to recovery. And not an easy one. It’s one I plan to write more about as I process through it all. I have learned so much about pain, emotions, stress and anxiety that I could fill the pages of a book. And I still have so much to learn.

It has been a truly incredible journey – a journey I want to share, a journey I’m finally ready to share, a journey I hope will help others on their own road to finding healing – both physically and emotionally.

I think back to the darkest days of my incessant, nagging pain. I felt so lost, so helpless, so hopeless day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, doctor after doctor.

You’ll find I often post pictures of sunrises, sunsets, skylines, and the ocean. It’s in taking in the greatness and beauty of God’s creation that I can see His sovereignty, his goodness, and the beauty of even the most painful trails here on this earth.

While I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize that root of my pain, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, that God is in control of my life, and that He will use every experience I go through for the good of His kingdom, for the good of my life, and for the good of the lives of others around me.

So this will be the beginning of me sharing my journey with you. And what better day to start than the day my sweet friend, Krissi Lloyd Holman, was born.


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2 Responses

  1. This gives me hope. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Meredith says:

    Hi Kerrie, if this post could provide you with hope, then I am overjoyed. If I can touch just one life by sharing my story, then that is enough for me. I truly believe the Lord can work for the good of any situation, and if I had to suffer for a decade in order to find healing, and therefore help others find healing… I couldn't be happier.

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