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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dealing With People Who Just Don't Get It

Each and everyone of us who deal with chronic pain has had to deal with people who just don't get it. Each and everyone of us has been told that if we just got out and walked a couple of miles, all of our pain issues would vanish.  Each and everyone of us has been told by a well meaning friend that his/her aunt, mother, sister, father, brother had chronic pain cured by taking some vitamin or seeing some sort of new age healer.  And, each and everyone of us has wanted to punch those well meaning friends right in the kisser!

I have said it a thousand times that until you have lived with chronic pain, or any other chronic condition for that matter, you really don't know what it's like.  Believing that it is possible to have pain that never ends just isn't something you can grasp, until you have actually experienced it.  I know that until I developed this debilitating condition, I wouldn't have thought it possible.  I know that there were times prior to my experience with chronic pain that I would roll my eyes when people started talking about their never ending pain.  I thought they were probably hypochondriacs at best, and drug addicts at worse.  You know that thing they say about karma being a bitch?  Well, they were right!

Those of us with chronic pain quickly learn which people we can trust, and which people we can't.  We learn that with some people, we can be honest about how we feel, and which we stick with a smile and those lying words: I'm fine.  We learn that some family members, who see the struggle that we go through day in and day out, still don't believe that we are honestly suffering from anything.  And, we learn that some friends will be there for us more than those we call family.

We suffer loss as we watch friends and family drift away from us.  We know that it's hard on them to try and include us in their live's, only to be told that we are too ill to participate.  We wish that they understood that even though we may not be able to attend the family gathering, that just being asked is often all we want from them.  We wish that friends would be willing to come sit with us and talk for awhile, instead of always finding reasons why they can't.  And, we wish that they would remember the times we were there for them before we were struck down by this cruel enemy.

We also learn that we have to protect ourselves, because those we love are frequently the ones making us worse. We know that people get tired of hearing about our aches and pains, or our latest doctor's appointment.  But what they don't realize is that this has become our existence, and we don't have anything else in our lives. We learn that some people are toxic both to our self esteem and our physical health, and, with heavy hearts, we shut those people out of our lives.  It may be that they are grateful that they don't have to deal with us anymore, while we mourn their loss like a death.

I have been blessed by meeting people online who are not only living with the same thing that I am, but who truly understand.  We are there for one another in good times and bad.  We cheer on one another's victories, and listen with heavy hearts to one another's losses.  We don't always have the same illness, but we get it.  I may not ever meet these people anywhere but in the virtual world, but they have shown me more love and understanding than many people I know in the real world.  And, for this, I am thankful.