This is a candid and difficult piece but it is also a real piece, so for that reason I hope it will be both useful and cathartic.
Sometimes during a chronic persons journey, especially if their situation has worsened or there have been a lot of difficult things happening at the same time, then we can become very quiet and reclusive.
It’s a protective mechanism I suppose.
Recently I was messaging a friend whom I would like to call and wish happy holidays to but, because I am too emotionally raw at this time due to pain and struggles, I cant bare the thought of calling her as I would not be able to speak and probably erupt in tears. Hardly festive!
It is irrelevant that the the person I wish to call is also unwell. To me, it is only relevant that I can’t speak and the emotional wave would only tire me and probably worsen my disease activity.
During flares, we are lightening rods for stress and emotions, but they only aggravate our immune response and weaken our conditions even further. Hence we go to ground. We hide and we hibernate.
We try and watch light hearted TV, read or listen to music. We do things that require zero emotional response, but also distract us from the world of pain.
I am aware that others can usually use alcohol, gambling, exercise, shopping etc. but given the challenges (financial and physical) of the chronically ill we can rarely go on a boozy weekend to Vegas or buy a Chanel bag to help pull us out of our struggle. We must go through it.
However. I am also aware that there are people in my life who may be needing a call, deserving a call or even in need of some reassurance or some interaction with me, but the harder and more painful the time, the harder it is to summon the words and the emotional armor to get through it.
In this state I am a prime target for anything and everything that happens. I am an open wound. I am proud flesh waiting for the beating.
I unavoidably ran into a person the other day while waiting in the car for my husband. She said how wonderful she felt and how she had lost weight. I switched on my protective face and complimented her and boosted her ego and feelings. She absorbed all my beatitudes and then waved and left. When she was gone I erupted in tears. “What’s wrong?” Asked my husband. “She never said one nice thing to me…!” I cried. “Everyone doesn’t give a sh$t about me…” I said. Those raw feelings are throbbing away again.
Whether this was a true statement or whether it was an emotional response to all that we have been through this year is debatable, but the emotions, the pain, tiredness and years of hard graft is completely and utterly true!!
I watched a documentary about childbirth to switch my mind off. Hubby said “imagine childbirth!” I replied “…I have felt like I have been in constant childbirth for 10 years… Non stop!!!!”
People seem to think (Perhaps even sufferers we seem to think) that at some point we will have become used to the everyday difficulties and challenges that life AND disease/s can bring that we will take control of it all and no longer be at its mercy. But you don’t. You just hang on and hope to hell you can ride it out. You try and refine your coping skills and you try and create some good memories when the opportunity arises. But when life AND diseases are unrelenting … that’s when the crying game is very real.
Now matter how strong you think you are or how strong you think people should be, even the greatest, the mightiest, the strongest, the bravest can not do it without pain, emotions, kindness and support. Even Alexander the Great cracked under the emotional toll, so why should we expect any less from those who have suffered much more physical, emotional, financial and mental losses.
So, yes it is a difficult time at the moment… I am raw from the a very hard and unrelenting year. I want to call everyone I know and offer them glad tidings, happy thoughts, well wishes and bubbly energy but the truth is I barely have the emotional strength to dial the phone.
I am currently interacting through texting and messaging so no one can hear my voice or the emotions in my voice.
People are so used to hearing the happy, bubbly, positive, outgoing, funny and giving me that they assume that there is no other version of me. There is. She is real. She is playing the crying game and I am trying so hard to win and beat it at the moment. First, I must take care of myself and my family to change my odds of winning. So that’s what I am doing.
I did something I have never done before. I wrote an email to my health nurse last week explaining the year that we both have had; my husband and I. The struggles with health issues and many other exacerbating challenges… and…I asked for help.
I wrote the email because I couldn’t say the words myself without crying.
If you are playing your own crying game at this time too, then I hope the game ends very quickly for you and you reach a stronger, more peaceful place very soon.
May some happier times and memories be ahead for us and the ‘peace’ that we need to come back again in our hearts can return, so that we can play on…