“Toughness has nothing to do with it. This is physical agony, not weakness of character.”
– Jeanna Safer, Ph.D. in “The Will of the Weed” an article from Psychology Today magazine
It took a while for me to digest this quote. It struck me on a very deep, personal level. I have been battling this pain for so long, and for so long I have felt like I should be able to deal with this, I should not let this hurt me so much. When this whole time it has been a physical ailment, not some flaw in me. I have fought so hard to conceal how much pain I am truly in every single day because I think that people will see me as weak if I don’t. I think they will look at me over time and start to say “She is faking it. Her pain isn’t real. She just wants attention.” So I forge on and I say I am okay when I am not. That I can go on when I feel I can’t. That I can handle it when I know I will pay the price for it later.
I pretend it doesn’t hurt in order to maintain relationships. No one wants to spend their time with someone who is in constant agony and consistently has to stop things short in order to maintain the delicate balance of “it doesn’t hurt that bad.”
I pretend because if other people look at me and think I am not in any pain that means it cannot hurt that bad, right?
I pretend because I want to feel normal. Because I don’t want to see the pained face of pity looking back at me anymore.
And I pretend because no one understands. I have felt alone in this journey so many times. I have felt betrayed and abandoned by those I hold dear.
But this quote has given me something that often escapes me, hope. Hope that one day I will be better. That my physical body will find a way to heal itself. And it fortifies the idea that I do not possess a weakness of character, but perhaps even a greatness of character. That this is not the cause or result of some flaw in me. That I am beautiful and I am brave. That I look this pain in the face every day and I say “Give me your best shot. I will not quit.” I do not win this fight every day, but I fight it. There are days when I am down in the dumps and days when I soar. This journey has changed so many things about me. And although I am still in (too much) pain, I think I have been changed for the better.