Pain has a language all its own. Pain and suffering mark time differently. Pain is voracious and consuming. Pain comes in many shapes and forms.
Do you ever struggle with pain? Not just the physical kind – although that can definitely stop you in your tracks! I mean “pain” in general. Physical, mental, emotional… Each type is equally draining in a way. Equally clarifying to an extent. And each takes a toll on the person wearing it around day after day.
I’ve been thinking about suffering quite a bit today. Marveling at the way it is able to barge in and command the attention of the most seasoned warrior. Considering the capability it has to lay waste to all things bright and shining in a person’s life. In any of its forms and afflictions, pain can potentially devour the stoutest heart…
The past few days have been an arduous test of inner strength and coping for me. My pain scale is out of whack compared to the norm, I think, so I won’t try to assign it a number. Let’s just say it has been ‘up there’. It’s nothing new and certainly something I’m usually adept at dealing with, but now and then it manages to make me want to stop in my tracks and curl up on the floor. That is typically the case when I’m in pain AND my empathy meter is in the red as I watch someone I care about suffering in their own private misery.
Having what is considered an “invisible illness“, I’m used to looking one way on the outside and feeling the complete opposite within. It’s actually a challenge I accept daily to put on a brave face and downplay my pain or symptom flares. Wearing that mask may not always be the best choice as it makes it more difficult for people to understand when the cracks start showing… They thought everything was fine – I seemed like I felt okay! It also increases the ‘invisibility’ sometimes.
People are fearlessly and tirelessly inconsiderate when lacking in proper information and understanding. There are a lot things that chronically ill people don’t want to hear – believe me, I’ve heard them all – but when you mask pain all the time, I guess it goes without saying that sometimes others won’t know anything at all about the private war being waged inside.
I’ve been in a lot of pain lately… although most people probably haven’t noticed anything amiss. I prefer to keep it that way, for the most part, but I can’t help but want to reach out healing hands to all the other people I know in similar situations even when I know they’re trying to hide behind a carefully constructed façade of “FINE”. I have loved ones struggling daily with physical ailments, psychological anguish, mental illness… They each go through bouts of misery and torment and I would offer them all a restorative potion if I could. This post isn’t about that, however. It’s about something much smaller in the grand scheme of things.
This post is about the responsibility we each have to offer support and healing to those around us.
There is so much negativity and hate in the world. Everyone you see is dealing with some sort of struggle that has probably taken root in the center of their lives – consuming, ravaging them from the inside out. Just because you can’t see someone’s anguish does not mean that it is not there. Just because you have struggles and trials of your own does not absolve you from being considerate of others marching along in their own grief and pain.
I’m not here to judge. But please remember that not all disabilities are visible to the naked eye. Not all pain is readily ascertained on a scale of 1 to 10…. And, unfortunately, not all hurts are healed with a kiss and a Band-Aid. Although that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
My challenge to you, during this most festive and generous season of the year, is to reach out to someone who might need a friend. Someone that might need a shoulder to cry on, a companion to sit with, a confidante to vent to, or a caring hand to carry their groceries to the car. Take time to assess your own needs and care for yourself, absolutely! But bless yourself further by taking a moment to be the light in someone else’s day, as well. What may seem a small gift to you could be the greatest present of all in their eyes, and just because you are not aware of the impact of your actions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose them with care and compassion each day.
And if *you* are the one that has been beaten down to the point of lying curled up on the floor, please remember that people love you. People care. There are those that would give whatever they have to bring you joy and relief. But most of all, remember that YOU are stronger than you give yourself credit for. I don’t have to know you to say that I believe in you… and I hope you won’t give up the fight.