“I think it is very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by others.”
There is a huge difference between isolation and spending time alone. So many people with chronic pain isolate themselves for many reasons: their physical pain is too much to bear, embarrassment, exhaustion, feeling more alone than when alone, and because physical pain that does not end changes one personality (not forever.) I used to isolate a lot due to chronic pain. I hated being around friends and family because all I could think about was pain and I was never able to enjoy myself and thought I only brought people down. In all honesty, I was also very jealous of my friends because I wanted their problems: relationships, grades, class work, silly/ridiculous arguments etc. I was angry. I wanted to scream: “I wish I had those problems, I want those problems. I am living with chronic pain that only gets worse each week/month/year and I would kill to just be ‘normal.'” In order to get out of my isolation, I had to finally accept chronic pain and learn how to manage it naturally and not allow pain to dictate my life. With that said, I do not like to be alone especially when sad, sick, worried, or well lonely. I have spent a lot of time lately alone (aside from my now three year old daughter but all we talk about is princesses, legos, and this odd argument she has been having with Tinkerbelle over her pretend phone. I talk to Tinkerbelle on Kayci’s phone more than I use my own as of late. I’m not sure why but Kayci insists Tinkerbelle stole Anna’s baby (character from Frozen.) No, in the movie Anna does not have a baby. Anyways, just those few sentences show that I have been alone lately and its not fun but it is very important. I am forced to focus on myself and the changes I need to make in order to make the rest of my life and my families the best it can be. Last Friday night I got a stomach virus that lasted twenty four miserable hours. I wanted to be Kayci’s age again and have my dad make me toast and watch movies with me but I am a mother and an adult and sometimes I have to do things alone. It was six in the morning and I was vomiting and I kept thinking: “how the hell am I going to make it through this day with just Kayci and I? The hours went by and I unhappily played Legos, colored, and watched The Big Comfy Couch for hours with my daughter. Clearly, I got through the day.
I need (need and want are very different things) to spend time alone to focus on my life, my faults, my management of chronic pain, and to truly find myself. I think we all need times in our crazy lives to spend time alone to find ourselves as we do change over time. I am not the same person I was twenty years ago, ten years ago, or even a year ago. Of course, I am not totally alone as I have a family but even with families and kids we each need time to focus on ourselves and truly see what changes we need or do not need and spend time evaluating ourselves and trusting that we are strong enough to be alone despite not wanting to be. If we are constantly with people sharing our troubles and worries we tend to listen to their advice or opinions which is a good thing to an extent. However, I have learned that when I continually look for advice from others I stop hearing my inner wisdom and make choices and decisions based on people who I love but do not have to live with the results of my choices. We all need a support system whether one has chronic pain or not. It is okay to step away from that support system in order to be alone and truly think without distractions (Kayci and Tinkerbelle excluded.) Facing your own reality and coming to terms with your life and the lives of those you love is very difficult but I truly just learned that it is a necessity. If we want to change our lives in any way shape or form, we must first and foremost spend time on our own to truly focus on ourselves and learn. Transformations happen many times during each of our lives: in order for transformations to be productive and healthy we must be okay with spending time alone.