My goal beginning a blog focusing on my experience with chronic pain and becoming disabled was so simple. I wanted to build connections. Journaling has been an integral part of my life since I was young. My experience has taught me as I write intuitively, without editing myself, I learn something hidden from myself however simple it may be. For example, I may be journaling and writing a sense of being overwhelmed as a mother. If the anxiety is great I tend to free associate, write with some pressure or speed. I inevitably will laundry list some irritations leading into scolding myself for feeling anything but blessed. A pendulum swing between exhaustion and shame. Interspersed will be the occasional self soothing, reminding myself I am not the only overwhelmed mother who doubts herself. I am not the only mother who can come up short when seeking the magical formula of discipline (no 'teaching' as discipline sounds too harsh). Usually a page and a half in I will surprise myself by writing down some hidden in plain sight truth which speaks to either every aspect of my anxiety, or just as often a truth which is separate but shadows whatever topic in my life gives me the urge to put pen to paper and write. My journaling has been as close to a prayer as anything else I do. I spit it all out without censor and somehow I find some meaning. Not usually answers, but something more basic which gives me a better perspective. The best cases leave me with a sense of surrender and peace. A realization the original problem or worry is at worst life happening and life has a way of throwing us both snowballs and snow cones.
Life always changes. Surrender happens when I see myself as a simple human doing my best; relief often is as simple as acceptance of the above, combined with an ease which occurs when I can move through the day without the background narrative judging, comparing. Magic happens when the surrender/acceptance opens up my vision to how very human I am, thus connected to others.
I was once at a conference of 50,000+ misfits where a very wise woman gently reminded the collective crowd, "there is really only one of us; you know", raising 50,000+ simultaneous goose bumps. As One. This was one of a handful of times I felt the presence of something sacred; a part of and kindly in the care of something sacred, and maybe even more importantly, something "good".
So you might ask what does my history of journaling, stumbling and recovering have to do with the above title, "is there a way to blog about pain without whining?". Even I have to wonder why journaling about pain has defied the above parallel. No doubt, journaling in a blog makes it more than a bit harder to quiet my ego. Yet I have a wealth of personal experience of sharing my heart, my vulnerabilities in public settings and finding a close parallel to the surrender, acceptance, magic outcome I have described above. EXCEPT, when in these same forums my experience has more to do with my pain. My pain; not our pain, the pain we all share. Is that where the difference lies? So how could I get so comfortable sharing foibles which I know alot of folk do not speak freely about, yet chronic pain somehow falls outside my comfort zone which had grown to be quite large.
Ahh. Duh, I am not comfortable with my experience of chronic pain. I am not comfortable. I am not alone here, as I am pretty sure You are not comfortable later. But until I accept my experience of living with daily pain, pain which escalates with activity, pain which inevitably feels more than I can handle, until I accept this as an aspect of my humanity I will not be free to share this experience.
Why such an urge to share? Simple; sharing when vulnerable has been my path to learning my open and honest vulnerability is not an isolated experience, but rather a few of my fellows will tentatively or boldly approach me to thank me for reminding them of their own humanity. And visa versa!
The experience of chronic, intractable pain is not as broad of an experience as the discomfort of learning to be honest in a partnership, learning to accept my imperfections as a mother, etc. So what? Why not look for the similarities instead of the differences. Why not remember the intrinsic compassion in most of humanity. My "pain" antennae is high and probing for judgement though my experience has repeatedly taught me this is not the reality. It may be a reality, but it is definitely not the reality of those certain folk I have found in my path who always smile and offer a kind word pretty much regardless what I say. They are kindred spirits.
I have not given up on this blog nor my intention to create connections and help destigmatize chronic pain. Destigmatize; what a word and the first time I have used, expressed this idea. Yet this is the crux of the matter; sharing my humanity in the midst of living with severe pain. Believing there are others who are trudging this path with me who can use this blog to express their own journey. Knowing that pain is universal. A humbling sense which has overtaken my heart and breath after writing the last, which reminds me my pain which is often physical in the first impression has many shadow pains; depression, sleeplessness, hopelessness, a fear of the future, isolation, etc., etc., etc.
Is there a way to blog about pain without whining? Yes. And no. I think I have to be brave enough to express what pours through my fingertips without too much of an ego editor, without deleting for fear of being judged as whining. I am the judge. Am I afraid to be vulnerable? Yes. Am I afraid to be judged? Yes. Am I still holding the judgement which has been shared? Definitely. Who the **** cares?! I am drowning in isolation, loneliness, and pain which limits my movement when biting and acute. I am even more lost in those moments when the pain is more of a foreshadowing threatening my movements, making me feel in the same moment both lazy and cautious, scared and confused. Above all, lonely.
I cannot underestimate how much joy and love I receive and share with my Tim and my two young boys. I have immersed myself into jewelry making, a craft and activity which gives me much satisfaction. Yet the loneliness is so real, strong. It is a haunting loss of friends I used to see often who I haven't seen this calendar year. It is the knowledge I do not know when I will be strong enough to maintain such friendships with the ease of simply showing up like the 'good ole days'. It is the preoccupation with the pain which wraps me in a straitjacket. It is the worry of finances, aging, needing another surgery. It is a thousand different ways my life is different from what it was and what I always had thought it would be.
In the clear knowledge the last rant I wrote falls clearly in the domain of whining, I will end with it as it is as honest as I get and what many or most moments, most days feel like in a nutshell. In a nutshell of a very blessed life. Please share in whatever way you can if your relate. Thanks.