What does it mean to accept living with chronic pain? And forever? How do people do that? Should they?
How could someone have the audacity to label me as “a hopeless case” and define my future, my life? Did this mean relinquishing hope of getting better? Did it mean I needed to stop trying? I can not will not, accept living in pain forever.
I have rejected my body. I was attached to something that no longer existed. I idolized and clung to my “perfect” body and my “perfect” life before my UC came back into my life. I was fully living life, not merely existing. I do not want this “new” body. I feel unsafe in this body of pain and have lost control over it.
I beginning to nurture my body as I would my child or a sick family member. I am listening and responding to its needs. I am eating more healthfully, and gaining an understanding of my activity tolerance so I did not overwork my body and cause more pain flair-ups. I begin to accept and respect my body. Chronic pain is as much a mental disease as it is a physical disease.
I needed to learn to accept my body and my self. Chronic pain creates not just physical trauma, but a disconnection from one’s self. Grief is not just for those who have died, but for a loss of ones’ sense of self, including one’s belief system and how I once defined myself. Within my grief dwelled so many dimensions of loss – loss of abilities, companionships, independence, and how I defined my place in the world. I felt unlovable and inadequate – unworthy. Beliefs swirled in my mind. I was worthless. All I had is my personality, but society defines people by their career and money. I had nothing to offer. How could I exist in a society with pain and disabilities?
To move forward in my grief, I needed to let go of my false beliefs and misperceptions about myself, how I defined myself. Beliefs are stronger than thoughts, for they are thoughts embedded with feeling. We do not just think we are unworthy, we feel it to our depths. I needed to open my heart to myself, without judgment. With compassionate awareness, I embraced the experience of my self.
When I began to accept and love myself, I began to accept my life. I am what I am. And I love myself for this. Pain is a part of my life for the moment, maybe forever, but it is not who I am. I accept myself and my life because I, not pain, define who I am and the course of my life.
Have a blessed day, love the ones you are with, and remember we are not guaranteed tomorrow but we are guaranteed coffee today.