“You don’t need to defend. You don’t need to prove. You just need to BE.”
One of the biggest struggles with any invisible illness is feeling the need to prove your pain or defend your actions. This is something I still struggle with after years of managing chronic pain naturally. One of the biggest keys to managing chronic pain naturally is moderation.: taking breaks throughout the day. I still find it hard to believe I feel guilty at times for taking a break. A break could be just reading for an hour, practicing meditation, or even just shhhhh watching Bravo TV for an hour or two (it is truly addicting.) Why do I still feel that guilt? I know what my body needs. I know that if I overdo it I will pay the price which in turn will cause my loved ones to pay the price and yet I overdo things and do not always listen to my body because I do not want to be perceived as “lazy.” That is not easy for me to admit, especially to those of you who have been reading my blog for an extended amount of time. I decided yesterday to stop feeling guilty for listening to my body. Yes, there is always something to get done or do and I always feel guilty if a family member watches my daughter for awhile, even though they probably love it. It has been a very long two days, with not much sleep and my dad brought up going to one of the playgrounds near our home, which is something I do with Kayci all the time. Kayci looked at me with her adorable eyes and said: “You coming Mommy!” If you know me or read my blog I am with my daughter (so not complaining) 95 percent of my day. I really do love being with her and I love taking her places (except the grocery store, not always a good time.) I took a deep breath and said: “No, mommy needs a break. When you and Pop Pop get back I will take you on a bike ride for ice cream. Me being me also felt guilty that my dad was going and I was just going to take it easy: sit and write. But, I did it. My dad understands my management of chronic pain better than anyone because he walked through the entire journey with me from brain surgery to years of searching for a cure to watching me give up on life to the Pain Rehab Center where I learned to accept chronic pain and how to manage it naturally. He knows I need breaks but I should not feel the need to explain myself to anyone regarding chronic pain and /or how I chose to manage it. Trust me, no one wants to see the Jessica from the past who lived her life in doctors offices, crying, taking any medication recommended, undergoing procedures continuously, crying, laying in bed, drinking at night, crying, and a real bitch to get along with. Yea, even just writing that reminds me of how much better I am today and if anyone judges me or thinks I am being “lazy” for taking few breaks in my busy life then that is not my isssue. One would not tell someone with Cancer they are lazy or faking pain: same goes for chronic pain. Just because you cannot see something, does not mean it is not there. Looks are always deceiving.
Defending yourself and proving yourself is an issue for most of us. If I am ever accused of something, even silly like forgetting to lock the door and I know I locked it I go in major defense mode. Whether I am being accused of something large or small I defend and defend and defend. It is exhausting. I know my truth, why should I defend myself. Now, in the past if I had done something terribly awful I know why I “defended” myself becasue I hated myself for certain actions and beat myself up more than anyone could possibly know. However, I have no need to defend myself when I know my truth. Ask me something. I will tell you the truth and move on. WEll, I wish I did that. I am getting there. We all must stop defending ourselves. Sometimes people will believe what they want to believe and no amount of proving or defending yourself will change their mind. However, and I write this with much empathy that is that person’s issue: not yours. I believe I defend myself and feel such guilt for the silliest things because I spent more than a third of my life proving my pain. I was a young teenager when my bike accident happened: chronic pain was not really known back then (I am not ninety nine years old but a lot can change in twenty years.) Watch, “Back to the Future” One, Two, Three or well, I am sure there is a Fourth one: twenty years can go fast but my God do things change. After I “looked better” on the outside (hair fully grown back, scars covered, bones healed) people forgot all about brain surgery and once chronic pain hit I spent my life proving my pain. As I say the best gift you can give anyone with an invisible illlness are not flowers, despie my tittle but those three magical words: I BELIEVE YOU.
I truly pray that all of you come to a point where I have come in my journey with chronic pain and can accept it and manage it naturally. Hence, why I write as much as I can. It is not easy but there is a beauty in the difference in living and just surviving. One thing that is difficult for me at times is that I do not talk about chronic pain. You probably do not believe me as I have now written it about twenty times but I do not speak of pain verbally. Speaking of my pain is called a pain behavior and brings attention to my pain which is the opposite of what I want to do. Clearly and understandably, people forget that I have chronic pain: hell I do sometimes which is freaking awesome. But, then comes in that whole defending thing. If there is something I know I should not do because of how I manage chronic pain, I have to say no. I pick and choose my battles but I try very hard to do what is right for my health. People ask why, beg, and worse think I am being selfish because they forget I still have chronic pain. Chronic means: never going away. I know my body. I know chronic pain. I know how to manage chronic pain like a champ and am very intuitive eespecially when comes to what I should and should not do. I need to stop defending myself. You need to stop defending yourself. Own your truth and let it go. This is much easier said than done as I struggle with this and I am no longer in my darkest hours of chronic pain. However, I am on this journey with you and this is something I need to work on.
I know who I am. You know who you are. I know my truth. I know my body. I know what is right for me and wrong for me. I know that hating myself is much worse than anyone else hating me. I must begin to do what is right for me and end the cycle of defense. We all need to start practicing the above quote.
You do not need to defend. You do not need to prove. You just need to BE.