One of the biggest things people with chronic pain lose is a sense of self worth. The harder your battle is with pain the harder it is to keep up with what you want to do for yourself and for others. We lose self worth due to loss of schooling, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, loss of what we once thought (pre chronic pain) our life would be like. We end up relying on others to help us so much more than we want to because we, at times do not have a choice. The guilt that comes with depending on others is enough to truly break us down and make us feel totally worthless. This topic was brought to my attention by one of my readers and to really share my experience with value I have to go back in time. I have to write a letter to my younger self: the person whose life revolved around pain.
Dear Little Jessica,
I wish I was with you right now to hold you and tell you everything is going to be okay but alas you are alone. You are in so much physical and emotional pain right now all I want to do is hug you and allow you to cry in my arms and tell you things are going to work out. Because they do end up working out but there is zero way you can see that right now. You cannot see past this hour because all your thoughts are consumed with pain. Everything is falling apart Jessica. The girl that once had the great grades and dreams so large is gone. You spend most of your time at the doctor’s searching for a cure to this endless pain. Every minute seems to get worse and little by little you are losing so much of yourself. Your biggest support system is dad (shocking right?) He is always there for you. He takes you to doctor appointments, he allows you to cry, and he does not give up on you. He ends up having to pay a lot of your bills for a good period of time and you end up living with him off and on. He loves us so much Jessica but the guilt is eating you alive. You are almost twenty one years old! You should not be relying on dad to pay for things and help you so much: you are an adult! All your friends are making it on their on and probably think you are a spoiled brat to have so much help from daddy. Sweet Jessica, this is how you feel but it is not reality. You know no different. You have chronic pain and literally think about nothing else ever. You did not ask to fall off your bike. You did not ask to be diagnosed with chronic pain. You have no clue how to manage your life because life and pain go hand in hand. I do not know what is worse for you right now: the physical pain or the emotional pain. All I know is that you truly believe you are worthless and hate yourself for relying on others to help you. Things do get better not that you believe me but they do. You want me to tell you that you found a cure to your chronic pain but I cannot tell you that because I no longer lie to us. You do, however find a way to live a healthy, happy life despite your pain. You become a social worker, you turn into this crazy health nut who likes exercise, you end up forming the family and becoming the mother you always dreamt of being. I know I lost you at exercise right? The girl in high school who was hiding behind the bleachers smoking a cigarette with friends now runs four miles every other day. Things really do change Jess, and for the better. Oh, it is not easy but it is so worth it. At the age of thirty two you still have chronic pain but it no longer defines you. Some days are really difficult and not many people understand, not even your family but most days are pretty damn good: simple but good. Trust me on this: the simpler your life, the better. You still have a sense of guilt and at times feel less worthy than others. But, with age comes wisdom and success is relative. There are a lot of things you still want to work on and you will and maybe ten years from now you will be writing the present Jessica a letter. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. You are not alone Jessica. You feel alone, you think everyone hates you and your self worth is at an all time low but keep holding on. I promise.
Jessica (32 years old)
This is a huge topic that I will keep writing about because there are so many facets to it. Just remember what Louise Hay says: You are doing the very best you can at this very moment.