I have lived with pain for most of my life. Chronic severe pain. Extreme pain at times.
I have a facial pain condition called trigeminal neuralgia, back and rib pain due to scoliosis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, Raynaud’s…I’ll stop there, otherwise you might think I am writing a medical encyclopaedia. I’m not.
People say I cope well with my pain. But I just feel it is part of my life, so I have to make the best of it. I want to live, and enjoy living, and I believe I can, even though I have pain.
About twenty years ago, I met a woman who had severe osteoarthritis. She told me that she would never let her pain beat her. She was determined to fight against it.
Her words struck a chord with me. I had used them myself. Often.
From my mid teens, I lived with chronic, disabling back pain. I was determined not to let it beat me. I wanted to have a ‘normal’ life, doing things that normal teenagers do. I was not going to be beaten by my pain.
After chatting with that woman, it suddenly occurred to me that I had been living in a battleground, constantly fighting against my pain.
Who had been winning that fight?
Well, it certainly wasn’t me.
How could I win? I was fighting against something so much stronger than me. My pain had the ability to make me pass out, to drop me to the floor, to make me unable to get out of bed without help.
I was fighting against something extremely powerful and it was a fight I could never win.
The pain was mine. It was part of me.
Therefore, I had been putting myself into a battleground to fight. I was fighting with myself.
A battleground really isn’t a positive place to be. And I wasn’t able to win the battle. The pain won. I had to surrender to it. I felt defeated. I felt miserable.
I felt like a failure.
I learned a lot about myself that day. And from then, I changed how I viewed my pain.
I recognised how strong and powerful my pain was. I learned to listen to it. I learned that it was there for a reason. The reason might be that I needed to relax, or I’d been on my feet too long, or I needed more sleep, or I’d pushed my boundaries and needed a few days rest.
I can’t say that I am always ecstatically happy to listen, but I know that if I don’t, my pain will be worse. I live with it, rather than fight against it. It’s a peaceful environment rather than a battleground.
Do you live with constant pain? How do you cope with it? Please comment below to let me know.