I’ve lived with chronic Rheumatoid pain for two and a half years now. To say that I’m familiar with it would be a gross understatement. It’s a part of my life in the same way that coffee is to a barista. We go hand in hand. Where I go, pain goes. Where pain goes, I follow. That’s probably a weird way of looking at it, but when you’ve been living with that evil twin of yours for so long, it starts to change your outlook.
Everyone who knows me knows how ridiculously optimistic I can be. I’m a glass half full kind of girl. I’m the person that was told she had cancer and promptly asked her mom for a chocolate sundae from McDonald’s. (For those of you who are unaware, McDonald’s hot fudge sundaes make everything seem better.) It’s true that I may internalize a lot of my emotions, and I’ve gotten much better about not playing stovetop jenga. But as stated before I can’t always be strong for everyone. I break down too. Just because you don’t see it happening, doesn’t mean that it’s not. It just means I’m really good at hiding it. And FYI, that doesn’t mean I’m lying, or keeping the truth from you because I’m secretive. It just means that you don’t need to know about every single time I have a sob session in my mom’s car, or when I have an anxiety attack in front of the nurse putting the IV in. That’s really more on a need-to-know basis, and I deem that you need not know.
I’ve been in a lot of pain in the last two months. I’ve been trying really hard to hide it. I put it in a box, then taped it up with duct tape, then painted the entire thing in super glue before wrapping it in several layers of chain mail, and then weighing it down with lead bricks before throwing it into the Mariana Trench. It’s resilient though. There’s a chance it made friends with some deep sea beasties down there and they are helping it come back up Abyss-style…. those bastards.
My therapist told me to bury it. Every one of my friends told me to bury it. And the family members who treat me according to the definition of “family” have told me to bury it. But see.. it’s hard to bury the kind of pain that has haunted you your whole life. No matter how much you tell yourself that you’re better than this, that you deserve better than this, it seeps into your brain anyway.
I made a decision two months ago that I deserved more. I made the decision to be a mature and rational adult. To not let petty tricks and condescending insults ruin my life. I wasn’t going to let degrading words and offensive behaviors have any place in my world.
It was a hard decision.
Because even though I knew those behaviors were wrong, and that no one including me deserved to be treated that way, it’s painful to give up on someone you love.
You shouldn’t have to say goodbye to family if they are still walking the earth. But even more so, you shouldn’t have to have an escape route for being around people who have only ever had words of discouragement for you. You shouldn’t have to pump yourself up to be around someone in case they are in one of their shaming you moods.
So in the end, I don’t know what is more painful for me… The hurt that their words and actions caused, or the fact that I could no longer handle it.
No matter what, no matter if I chose to let it continue or not, I would and will always be in pain because of it. And when I look at my life, my disease, my cancer, and I see what little left I have to be happy about, I get so mad at that pain.
How dare you. How could you cause so much mental pain to someone when all they have ever done was try to make you happy, to impress you, to win your approval. What is so wrong in your life, in your heart, that you see a sick child who’s in pain, real physical pain, ALL THE TIME, and instead of helping, instead of just leaning over and giving a hug, or just one word of hope or encouragement, you instead cut them down? You shame them. You belittle them. You tell them they don’t deserve your trust, your love.
That pain, that overwhelming hurt that I have been feeling for the last two months isn’t radiating from my wrists. My knuckles and purple fingers seem easy to handle. But this pain you delivered to me on purpose, I don’t know if a pill will fix that. I don’t know if a hundred sessions with my therapist would fix it. There’s no remission for this kind of pain.
It’s the pain of knowing you’re not loved. It’s the pain of realizing it after all this time. All these years of lying to myself, hoping you will change, hoping you will wake up one day and remember that I’m here. That I’ve always been here. I just want you to see me. And not insult me and call me names. To not look at me in disgust. To give me a hug when I tell you I have cancer. To come to one chemotherapy session and hold my hand while I’m scared. And not give me some bullshit reason on why you can’t show me your love, or why you won’t support me in my illness because your immature feelings over your 30yr old divorce are keeping you from being a father.
It’s the pain of wanting a Dad, and realizing that I have none.
For those who are willing to help love and support me please visit my donation page. Every little bit helps.
Christine Lilley’s Life Fund