Monday, October 10, 2011

People May Scatter, But Hope For Your Future IS A Choice

Wanna figure out who your real friends are? Live in chronic pain or be diagnosed with a chronic illness and people scatter--I know because I have seen it happen in my own life. I am always the strong one to such an extent that a cousin of mine (who I am very close to) actually told me to suck it up at my Grandma's funeral!! She said she couldn't take if I was gonna cry. That was in 2000 and I was not capable of telling her how I really felt about what she said then and I never have, because I know it would change our relationship forever in a negative way. When others don't understand that being strong only hides pain, but it does not erase it. Plus when others don't live with pain, then they tend to judge you and maybe not even believe your pain. This judgment can come from family and friends--When I was recovering from my first back surgery at age 24 not one of my friends came to visit me at first. Finally after 4 weeks my best friend in the world came and gave me a sponge bath and I actually cried--not because it hurt (it did big time) but more because she was the only one. I lost everyone else who I thought were real friends--turns out they were fair weather friends. Only a handful of my relatives visited and a few others sent cards and I come from a huge family!! Now I know who my real friends and family are, and I only count on them. It sucks to be alone in pain. It hurts physically, emotionally and spiritually--it is like a death. Someone finally told me I was mourning the loss of my former healthy self and my career. I think we all do our share of mourning and should give space and time to feel that. We go through the same process--denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance--its the 5 stages of grief. Yes, showing your pain or grief or emotions takes strength and the more you show the stronger you are. That is not to say that if you are not ready for acceptance that you should be stronger--its a process and each stage is necessary and needs and takes time. You must give yourself permission to take the time and feel each stage. Each person takes a different amount of time with each stage--no pressure to rush because then it will only take longer. You must love and accept yourself first (and most importantly) before you will ever get out of the depression phase. That was hardest for me to accept. I didn't want to love the new "broken" me--with degenerative disk disease that has invaded my once healthy and strong back--now 4 disks are herniated and I have neuropathy down both legs with burning pain and numb spots that cause my balance to be off and me to fall occasionally. How could I love that? How could anyone love that? My husband of 18 years answered these questions best when he said, "How could I stop loving you? I commited to 'in sickness and in health' and I meant it. Your disability and failing body took nothing away from my love for you." The reality of his unconditional love brought me back from depression. If he could love me this way, then I had to find a way to love myself. I do love and value myself again, and I hope as you read these words that you have found a way to love yourself, too. Some of you are stronger than me, and will find a way to love yourself without anyone else. You know that your disability, illness, pain or suffering is only a part of you, it is NOT all of you. Your limitations do NOT have to define you or limit your mind......unless you let them. I have found amazing inner strength and inner beauty in everyone who suffers with chronic pain and chronic illness, or lives with any type of disability. My sincere hope is that you can, not only see these traits in yourself, but you can harness them and use them to reach your goals and acheive your dreams. From your goals and dreams, you create hope for the future--which is necessary for us all. Don't let the changes you see in your body stop you from having goals and dreams and hope for the future!!!

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