My previous blog on Acknowledging Pain was intentionally vague regarding whether my suffering is from physical or emotional pain. Allow me to clarify... my chronic pain is emotional pain. It is every bit as severe, painful, debilitating, and hard to overcome as any physical pain.
It is possible emotional pain is even harder to address and recover from because of the stigma of being a "snowflake" or weak. I believe that all types of suffering should be treated with equal compassion because every individual's pain is worthy of love, healing and compassion. Luckily there is no reason to ration compassion, it's not a limited resource.
Since acknowledging and recognizing my emotional pain, several things have happened -- most of which are positive, maybe all are positive, depending on how optimistic I'm feeling at the moment.
First, and by far the best result is the closeness I now feel with my trusted person, Beth. I am no longer keeping a space between us in an attempt to protect myself. Keeping the secret of my suffering all to myself wasn't helping or protecting me. It was only creating a sense of insecurity that she could never understand, because I was unwilling to share my suffering. Our new closeness is so comforting, I cannot put it into words.
It was a mistake to keep any distance between us. I knew and fully believed that the simple words of "I am suffering and I need help" were all I needed to say to her. I also knew and fully believed that "with understanding comes compassion." I did not tell her I was suffering which, in turn, did not allow her to understand. And yet, even though I was withholding information, her intuition and compassion were incredible because she knew something was wrong and helped me to finally share by saying, "You are not acting like the person I have known for three years. It's ok to tell me what's really wrong."
There are several other things I suspected and have been validated as true for me:
1) I was the only one who could start this process.
This was really hard for me, and required an absurd amount of vulnerability, but I had to make the first move. No one could comfort my suffering while I kept it to myself. I had to decide that I was ready to share my struggles, and I had to decide who to talk with first. This was my first step toward healing.
2) Help was available all along, all I had to do was ask.
When I finally asked for help, I was lucky and got it immediately. Not everyone will be as fortunate as me, and some might struggle to find help. If this describes you, please don't give up, you'll find someone who will help.
3) People have been supportive. Not everyone, but enough to make it worthwhile.
Let friends, family, and medical professionals know you are suffering and need help. You will quickly learn who is a true friend and who is a social acquaintance in the process. You'll know because they will tell you, but more importantly, they will show you with their actions.
4) Allowing the pain wasn't easy at first, but it's getting easier.
It's not exactly a linear improvement, but generally it's getting better. It seems like allowing the pain, sharing, and asking for help has made it less of a burden for me to face alone. It's sort of like carrying a really heavy bag through the airport. It's ok to ask for help and let someone else carry a little bit of the load when you get tired.
5) Recognizing and acknowledging my suffering is just the beginning.
To heal my pain, my next step is to gently investigate where it comes from. I want a better than 'tolerable' life, which I believe will happen once I know the source of my pain and my wounds begin to heal. Now that I've decided to ask for help, acknowledged my pain and suffering, I can see the folly in all the excuses I created to remain in hiding.
I hope sharing my experience helps someone, even if it is just one person.
Writing and helping others are both well-established therapies, so this blog has become an important part of my healing process.
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