My wife, Kimberly, and I have been married almost 3 years to the day. We met in January 2011. During that time we have been through literally the valleys and the mountains. My wife suffers from PTSD, and for a while went through a really rough patch. I proved my commitment to her by staying by her side every step of the way, and giving support as I could. Never would I have though of going from the “alpha,” or the “bread winner,” to the one needing caring for.
Chronic pain is not just a pain, it is a sickness. One of the most complex illnesses that is not as recognized as it should. One of my biggest things I like to say to people who are not familiar with the disease is this:
“Everyone knows what happy means, now show a happy expression on your face. Everyone knows what sad is, now show a sad expression on your face. Now can you show an expression of pain on your face?”
Not very many people can. Pain is not always expressed on our faces, as someone who suffers from chronic pain, I will tell you that I hide my pain, and have been trained too. Why do I say that I have been trained too? It all starts with lack of the understanding and the complexity of the issue. When I am in pain, sometimes it is expressed in the form of a depressed look, and I get the “Why are you sad,” question. Or I get an angry expression, and then my spouse will look at me, and sometimes it could be a trigger to her. With these reactions from our family, spouses or friends, we tend to just put on a “I’m FINE,” face.
We have a little saying between us, F.I.N.E. is defined as Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. Unfortunately, one of the biggest no-no things in a marriage is harbor a lack of communication. So when we say we are “FINE,” we start to ask questions in our house!
This is the part where we start getting to the topic of the post, “Love, and Pain.” Kimberly does not understand what my pain is like. My doctor does not understand what my pain is like. And my mother does not know what my pain is like. I do. As chronic pain sufferers, we need to be patient and responsive to our partners, explain what they don’t know. They will NEVER understand what you are going though, and neither will I. However, they can try to gain better knowledge, and can get a try to help you cope with it the best way possible.
What I want you to know, not just as a blogger, but as a friend, is that you are SOMEONE. Educate your friends and family or your spouse. You are teaching them by explaining your thoughts and actions.
Perhaps, if you are reading this and you are on the other side and do not suffer from chronic pain, please lend an ear to your cohort. They do not mean to look for validation, or just to be a hag and complain all day. However, pain can be so intensifying that it defines who we are. We have to learn to define ourselves in other ways, and that begins with just talking, or better yet, communication.
God Bless you and your family during the holiday season. I am always here for an ear if you are in need. You may also check out our “ Need Help” section for some resources on help as well.
Check out Kimberly and I’s new addition to the family, the Stay Strong Box.
Follow us on twitter @suffer_live or @StayStrongBox