I know I will eventually get around to writing down about yesterday’s appointment… I feel like I need to get it out of my head but I also feel that I need to ‘process’ it somehow?? Maybe if I just start writing t it will become ‘processed’ :S Obviously I have no idea what I’m talking about here, so feel free to tune out… NOW!
Ok. Yesterday went to the TrickCyclist and I wanted to discuss my continuing bouts of the Nervous Nellies when driving as well as maybe discuss the viability of me going back to study… cos honestly I feel ill equipped to make a decision on this at the moment, even though I am aware I desperately need something to keep my mind distracted as I’ve been going slowly insane in my little world of pain over the last few months.
Instead she asked me how I was going lately and I mentioned how we fared last week in the flood (and my little trench digging episode that flared up my back pain) and I also mentioned that we’d had house guests for most of the week as my cousin Eric-the-Half-A-Bee and his wife were helping Mr K with the work for the media room they’re building. Which led onto a discussion of how these thing make me feel (don’t you hate it when they ask you that?) I think I can boil down what I reported at that time to this –
I feel extremely frustrated that I can’t participate in the building work.
I hate being unable to contribute and watching others makes me anxious 🙁
It bothers me to be perceived as an invalid or worse – as work shy or lazy.
I recognize I physically can’t do these things but it shits me to tears nonetheless.
I find it stressful to play hostess when there are people here all the time.
I feel it’s very rude to leave my guests to their own devices and go off to rest.
Yet it’s exhausting to keep my ‘everything’s fine’ facade on for lengthy periods.
At which point the TrickCyclist asking me how I would respond if I knew someone in a wheelchair who couldn’t participate in certain work projects and would I consider them lazy or useless? Which of course I said, no reasonable person would. She feels this is the same thing. That the people around me know and understand my limitations and don’t judge or begrudge my inability to perform certain physical tasks and that my tendency to persevere regardless of personal discomfort is ‘abnormal illness behaviour’. By which she explained I’m quite literally (and habitually) ignoring my own physical needs that might alleviate or at least mitigate my pain levels, largely due to unrealistic expectations that I PUT ON MYSELF. Expectations that no one else around me shares.
It’s weird really. I’ve always thought that I dont really care that much about what people think of me with the exception of about 20 core people in my life. Yet I expend all sorts of effort and employ a dozen well used tactics to avoid telling people just how much I’m struggling to keep it together. When I meet up with friends and they ask how my back is going, I usually respond with a “Ah you know.. same old shit. How is your work / girlfriend / court case / dog / adulterous affair and / or kid wrangling going?” and thus the topic is swiftly changed, thereby avoiding having to actually communicate to others what living with my back pain is actually like. I acknowledge that I do this, because even though I know that people only ask because they care… I quite simply don’t want to deal with people’s sympathy or pity. I used to do the exact same thing when I was on IVF. It always felt like self preservation… sparing myself any emotional disquiet that frequently came from discussing such topics, and having the additional benefit of sparing my friend futile uncomfortable conversations.
The other side of this self effacing pain management (??) behaviour is that I’ve become quite unsympathetic (and blatantly disparaging even) towards people who suffer what I perceive as temporary painful ‘inconveniences’. Which wouldn’t be a problem… except that over the years it has come to apply to just about ANY injury or ailment that I perceive will heal eventually. Quite literally I’ve felt myself (inwardly) having very uncharitable reactions to people suffering temporary pain – regardless of how much swearing and hopping up and down in acute pain is presented right in front of me.*
Got your fingers jammed in a door or caught in drawer?
“Oh poor poppet – get your shit together you’ll be fine in a moment.”
Just had an operation and you’re chowing down on pain killers?
“Snort… you have no idea what pain is about, you’ll be right.”
Did you knee in while out fighting heavy in the war?
“Ferfucksake! More fool you… get over it already.”
Fell off your mountain bike? Copped some bruises, lost a few chunks of skin?
“Dry your eyes Dortothy. No sympathy from this quarter, totally self inflicted.”
Broke your foot, bitching about pain and having to hobble around on crutches?
“Suck it up Princess. You’ll be fine in due course”.
* With the notable exception being when the Small Child is in pain…
and even he gets more ‘tough love’ than other kids his age do I’m sure.
So why do people carry on when they’re in pain and make a fuss over their injuries she asks me? My response- ‘because they actually need assistance if they’re badly incapacitated…. or because they’re not used to painful stimuli and want to elicit sympathy from the people around them…. or because they feel the injury is somehow unjust and they want empathy… or because they’re angry and want to put the pain back on others by looking for someone to blame, I dunno.’ Shrug.
She says yes, these are all common and valid responses to pain – So given that everyone reacts in these ways, and given that people understand I have constant pain which comes with many limitations, and acknowledging that people wouldn’t think less of someone for being sensible and avoiding doing things that worsen their condition… why do I work so hard to keep my pain to myself? O_o