My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, October 6, 2011

a window on the world of chronic pain

I've been recognizing some unhealthy character traits that I have developed (some of you are saying, "it's about time!") and I've been trying to tie them together in a neat little package to better understand myself. Maybe some of the things I'm dealing with affect some of you too. Tell me if you identify with any of these statements:

1. I embrace and befriend a number of people online but I have little interest in face to face time with them.
2. I love and deeply care for a number of family members but the thought of actually investing time and expending the energy to go to see them is overwhelming to me.
3. I hate talking on the phone. I will write volumes of emails but will avoid the phone at all costs. My phone was off for an entire weekend recently and I didn't even notice.
4. I support and appreciate the efforts of my local church but have little interest in attending or participating.
5. I am reluctant to entertain any thought whatsoever of romantic relationships because I assume the outcome will be the same regardless of what I do... I fear that I will be sucked in, become attached and then disappointed/rejected.
6. When people in real life ask how I'm doing, I avoid a lot of the details because I assume people are "over it" or don't really want to know. I feel like I can never hold anyone's attention long enough to fully explain. I will usually answer with a dismissive, "not good"... and leave it there without elaboration.
7. I fear becoming the person that people avoid because the news is always bad... I always have a complaint... I become Nancy Negative.
8. I filter a lot of emotions instead of sharing them or even really allowing myself to experience them. I feel like if the dam breaks... it will be too much for me - or anyone else - to bear.
9. I tend to judge or avoid people who are overly emotional or dramatic.
10. I'm rarely hungry. I eat because I know I have to but it is a chore. However... if I have something in the house that I really enjoy, I overindulge.
11. I assume that people don't have time for me.
12. I make no effort to contact my grown children because I feel like they need to live their own lives and don't need to be nagged to feel obligated to interact with me. I feel like they will come to me if they want my company. I don't want to intrude on their lives.
13. I avoid any situation that will potentially be painful. If I know that I have a potential painful activity that I have to participate in, I will make sure I have recovery time scheduled.
14. I consider myself "bad company"... more of a burden than a blessing to be around.
15. I find myself so distracted by pain that I frequently can't focus on anything else. It's given me a short attention span and taken away my sense of humor.
16. I avoid new situations. I am uncomfortable with any variation from my regular routine. I've learned to navigate and control my pain in known situations... the unknown could be painful.
17. I have so much pain during the workday that I am physically and emotionally drained by the time I leave each day.
18. I rarely feel lonely but think that I should.
19. I feel that I need to come with a disclaimer.
20. I know that my pain is invisible to most people. I sense that some feel it's not legitimate. I have no desire to prove anything to anyone. You can't ever really know what someone else is physically feeling.

This is the first time I've created this list where I could actually read it... but I've mulled over the individual points many times. I see this time as a season in my life... a time where I can learn to empathize with people who have chronic pain or who are isolated by their circumstances. I don't really feel sorry for myself, I feel guilty a lot of times that I can't be more or do more so I feel sorry for the people I disappoint.  I don't see this as a cross to bear so much as it is a window on a world I wouldn't otherwise see. I see it as an opportunity to learn to live and love in a different way. And I know that any time I am transparent and allow people to know my deepest feelings and thoughts that I find a lot of people who identify with me.

I am who I am. I have become who I have become. I am not bitter. I am not sad. I am just a girl who is dealing with a different set of circumstances than what I expected to deal with at this age. Or ever. Who can really mentally prepare yourself for being physically limited? I accept my limitations. I am prepared, as much as you can be, for what lies ahead. I see blessings in every day. I see disappointments every day. I find new reasons every day to "prove" that God is real. I am thankful for my shortcomings because it forces me to depend on Him. No matter how bad things are, I know that God is good. And things, honestly, are better than they have been in the past.

I don't really know how to wrap this entry up other than to say, if you see yourself in any of those points, I hope you'll tell me. If you've been there, done that and have a way to do things better, I'd like to hear your suggestions. Have a great Thursday y'all! Sleep study tonight... ugh!


mawmaw said...

This sounds like me talking, all these things are so true. love ya

Adirondackcountrygal said...

I can certainly understand some of these traits because I do it myself. Maybe you can try looking at one thing a day you listed and do the opposite. We went to the YMCA the other day, we joined as a family and I didn't do anything. I felt so out of place. Today my husband and I are going and I WILL get on the treadmill, bike etc...

Lisa said...

i understand completely. I have chronic pain also. All i want to do is stay in bed and everybody leave me alone but that is not real life. i have to work and I love my family and want to interact with them. i have no encouraging words and I am sorry for that. Unless you are going through this, you have no idea what its like. People act like they understand, but i know they dont. I will pray for you and you pray for me.

Red_Hot*68 said...

The first 3 are definitely me - I'm like that a lot, mainly because I'm a homebody, but it gets worse when I'm depressed. I sense that I'll be going through a depression again, as my husband just deployed on Sunday, and it just puts me in a funk when he's not here. But, I just find it in myself to suck it up and just do it. I answer the phone, I call people, I go visit those family members, I make an effort to meet people face to face, etc. I usually hate doing it while I'm doing it, but afterwards I'm glad I went through with it. The more I do it, the more I feel like doing it. Good luck with it, I know it's overwhelming, but I also know that God will get you through it.

Jess Miller said...

oh ms heather, i relate on so many levels. (love you and hugs)