Living with the chronic illnesses that I do, I’ve also learned to live with chronic pain that sometimes come with them. I’ve become an expert at pushing through pain, putting on a brave face, and pretending that I am okay. Not always because I feel like I have anything to hide, but because I believe it often makes life more bearable and joyful, despite living in pain.
But I find that the thing that isn’t so easy to hide, the thing that I can’t always mask, is the deep emotional pain that I sometimes feel. Chronic illness isn’t just painful because it physically hurts, but because it is a deep reminder of a life I feel that I have slowly lost parts of, a life where I constantly have to think about things that I don’t want to. I carry a lot of burdens, ones I never necessarily expected to, and they are heavy. And I am tired. It is not something that I can always turn off, or push through. So on the days that I am feeling this heaviness a little bit extra, I allow myself some sadness. I leave the brave face at home. .
I’m no stranger to hearing bad news about my health. I distinctly remember the days that I was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease and Lupus like they were yesterday. And each time I enter into a doctor’s office, thinking it’s like any other day, only to hear something else, another piece of bad news, to add onto my list of worries, it feels like everything is crashing down around me. Nothing makes sense. My efforts toward my health seem pointless. I feel hopeless. I worry about my future. It feels like nothing could ever get better, and nothing could ever get any worse. Today was one of those days - a day where I couldn’t pretend the pain was not there, a day where the burdens became heavier.
And on this day, I remember all of the bad news before this one, where I also felt that the pieces of my life were crumbling around me, where I felt hopeless and thought to myself that things could never get any better. But then, they did. With patience, and strength and the slow work of God, it always got better.
I’m allowing myself to feel this pain today & not hide it, but I’m finding strength in the knowledge that it always does get better.