Living with chronic illness is many things, but among the most painful, it is isolating. No one around me can truly understand what I am going through. It's not that I don't think they're trying to understand. It's that I know there's no way they can.
No one else feels what I feel. No one hears the cacophony of pain I am forced to listen to with no option of a pause button. No one sits in the fear of "what will happen next?" the same way I do with my body. No one experiences the panic and the sadness and the struggle like I do. No one else can, and I can't think of many things that feel more lonely than this.
It makes me angry when I can't seem to connect with the people who try so hard to empathize. I want to be able to say, "yes, thank you for understanding," and yet there is this critic inside my head that taunts, "they're just saying that; they'll never be able to." And I find myself withdrawing. I am isolated.
I have tried to make sense of this reality. I have tried to find the balance of sharing so people know, but giving grace for when they cannot. I have tried to be real. And yet there is no way out of this isolation, because no matter how raw and honest I try to be, no one can fully fit in that space with me.
I titled this "What it Feels like When No One Understands," and I am doing a poor job of living up to that title, because it is impossible to describe how it feels when no one can understand what you are going through.
I feel I have to be isolated, because otherwise I am too little and too much at the same time. If I let people in, I will disappoint. I will scare. I will worry. If I be myself, if I sit in the pain with people, if I am raw with them, then they will see, and they will not want to stay. And this reality is beyond terrifying.