Here is a lesson about pain, from someone who knows it like a very old, dear friend. It’s hard to understand what people mean when they say they are in pain. Sure we’ve all been there, we’ve all felt discomfort, but not all of our experiences are equal.
Pain every day, all the time, constant; it becomes so much more than just pain. In fact, it stops being pain at all. When you're a chronic sufferer, the actual hurting becomes such a tiny part of the problem. Overlying the physical ache, there are all the other factors, all the elements that actually stop you from living your life.
When you’re in pain all the time a fog comes over you. A loss of concentration that leaves you staring at all the tasks you have to do that day, mind blank, numb--ironically. Every time you try to focus on something a demand comes from somewhere else--your pain.
‘Pay attention to me! Focus on me!’
And so you ignore it. You put all your energies into overlooking that annoying little voice, constantly whining at you like a restless child who will never sleep, never play, never do anything except demand your attention.
And that’s possible, you can manage that. But then life comes knocking as well; life starts demanding other things from you.
“Feed me! Clean me! Pay these bills! Get up! Go! Leave the house!”
And life won’t shut up either.
So you pick up the howling, kicking, screaming baby that is your pain and you set off to try and do life. But the pain doesn’t like that:
“Why are you ignoring me?! I’m here! Remember I’m here! Pay attention to me!”
Internal tantrums so loud and intense that all you want to do is put down the basket and run out of the shop, turn the stove off, leave the dishes and go back to bed--anything that will make your implacable ever-growing toddler of agony quiet. However, there is no naptime in the world of pain; you can't put it to bed and hope it will sleep till morning, or play airplane with it till it giggles and goes away. It is constant, unloving, unforgiving.
And then they ask you to work. Earn a living.
And it becomes like you’re running a marathon. Up Everest. With a ton of bricks on your back. All while still being the responsible owner and caregiver of your darling pain.
So you stare blankly at the screen where your half finished article lies. The words no longer making any sense; instead, they lie, a blur of black and white, in front of your glazed-over eyes. Your internal world, a fiery pit of hell, burning so intensely you wonder how the smoke is not pouring from your mouth.
And yet, I thank god I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a job where I can work from home, one of the fortunate few who doesn't have to put on a brave customer face and cover their on-going torment. Because above all, pain teaches you one thing: to be grateful. To understand that no matter how bad it is, it sure as hell could be a whole lot worse.