Making Friends with your Pain
I was talking to a friend a while back and he said, “It must be difficult to live with pain.”
As many of you know, I have drastically changed my way of thinking and living when it comes to my perspective and how I view life. I was quite shocked when I heard myself say, “Well, after a while you start to think of your pain like an annoying roommate. It is always there, but eventually you learn to live with it.” I was quite surprised at my own revelation- had I really learned that?
For two and a half years I FOUGHT against my pain. It was private enemy #1. It was a constant reminder of the fact that my body failed me. At some point, I got tired of living like that. I did something I never thought I could do- I made peace with my body. Once I did that, the weight loss, which had already been going well, got even better and the pain, which is still there, seemed to lessen just a little.
“How do I make peace with my body?” you are probably asking. As I think back on how I got here I realize several things:
1- It didn’t happen overnight. I still have bad days and negative days. I have days and nights when the pain is bad and I curse my body. That is NORMAL. If you are always at peace with everything you are not experiencing real emotion and you are avoiding emotion, which is not healthy. Backslides are normal, expected and perfectly healthy.
2- Becoming friends with your pain starts with forgiving yourself. “But I didn’t do anything wrong,” you say. No you didn’t. Now believe it. I blamed myself for the injury, the burden, the bad moods associated with the pain. I didn’t do anything wrong. This injury, this life changing event was something that happened TO me. I didn’t do anything to make it happen and I didn’t DESERVE it. That is important.
3- I found the importance in my illness. I realized what I have learned from my pain. I have been able to pass on my experiences and my journey to all of you and I have gotten wonderful messages from strangers saying my story has helped them. I have learned to fight. And I have learned that I am so strong, stronger than I EVER imagined I could be.
4- I got moving. If you can move, at all, try to exercise. Even if it is for five minutes a day and that is what you build on. Exercise motivated me to do more and it taught me my strength. It showed me how much more I can do. If I look back at day 1 of physical therapy and what I do now in a week, I can (gently) pat myself on the back and say “look at you! You did amazing!”
5- I stopped looking at my pain as something that was ruining my life. Yes, it has changed my life. Yes, I wish it was not there. Yes, it will likely be there for the rest of my life as I am almost at the recovery mark and I am still on medications and in significant pain, but instead of looking at the pain as destroying my life, I started looking at it as something I simply had to work around. I can’t do certain things, that is true, but I can do others. Like a pot hole, living with pain is like learning to drive around the pot hole.
I know that this is oversimplified. I know that pain is difficult to live with and it takes a long time to make peace with it, but I know it is possible. You are looking at someone who used to be very negative and fought AGAINST her body for years and years. But I finally realized that it was so much easier to work with my body, rather than against it.
I hope that, if you haven’t already, that you can make a new friend! Sometimes even the biggest jerks can be good acquaintances you never know what it will teach you!
Rydzy MSW, T. (2013). Making Friends with your Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 4, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/chronic-pain/2013/12/making-friends-with-your-pain/