The 3 Most Important Words You Can Say to a Loved One With Chronic Pain
“People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in — told they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more. Remind each other of this.” — Stacey Jean Speer
People generally do not need a lot from others to feel worthy and loved. I believe what people need is quite simple, to be honest: to be recognized, encouraged and believed in. We complicate the process of trying to figure out what our loved ones (whether they have chronic pain or not) need from us and start buying gifts, reading books on how to show love and over-thinking what we could do better or should be doing better to love another. Stop. I do not care what people say — money does not buy love, but words, encouragement and belief do.
Similar to what Maya Angelou once expressed, people will forget what you bought them, people will forget what you did for them but people will never forget how you made them feel. I believe the three most important words you can tell a loved one with an invisible illness are: I believe you. One cannot see air, and yet we breathe; one cannot see their higher being, and yet they pray; one has no idea what heaven looks like, and yet they might do what they believe they should in order to get there when they pass. I believe the most incredible things in the world cannot be seen nor heard — they are just there. Chronic pain is usually invisible, but that doesn’t mean people are making up being in pain.
You are a loved one and may have no idea what chronic pain feels like, and you may not have the answers and most likely cannot cure your loved one. However, you can give them what they might need most: love, belief, encouragement and daily reminders of how loved they are.
When I first started managing chronic pain naturally and accepted it into my life instead of fighting it, I was actually given “flowers for chronic pain.” The people I love were so proud of me and could not believe the work I put into managing this disease. Years go by and people forget: invisible is a very hard word. Of course people forget; I do not talk about chronic pain, I look healthy on the outside and I am following all the dreams I set out for myself, but I still fight every day. I still have chronic pain, and even those of us who are at great points in their journey with chronic pain need to be encouraged and reminded of how proud their loved ones are of them.
Words are a funny thing, and the most powerful of all things in my opinion. Some words can hurt you to the core and are never forgotten, while others bring you such peace and almost a sigh of relief, like, “Ah, I am not forgotten. I am loved and the people I love most still know how hard I am fighting and believe in me.”
Everyone needs/wants encouragement from the people they love the most. Everyone wants to be believed in. Yes, most importantly, you must love yourself and believe in yourself, but I do believe we all still need that to some degree from our loved ones. Anyone who has gone through fertility issues knows one of the worst possible things to hear is, “Maybe kids just were not in the cards for you” or “One and done, just be happy with what you have.” When a person says something like that, it can feel like they are crushing your dreams and do not believe in you, and that can feel just like it does when a person doesn’t believe your invisible illness. Today is my final procedure where they put two healthy embryos back into me and we wait to see those pink lines: one or two? I have total faith my IVF process worked and I will be pregnant this month, but you know what? If I am not, I try again. I do not give up on my dreams, and just like my experience with chronic pain, all I want is to be believed in.
My two dreams are a family with children and to make writing/helping people with chronic pain my career, and I believe in myself. We all have different dreams, and I may not understand your dream and you may not understand mine. If someone told me all they ever wanted to be when they grew up was a lawyer, I would not understand this dream at all as it is far from one of my passions, but I would believe in them. John Lennon said, “All you need is love.” He is absolutely right, but with love comes belief, encouragement and support.
Follow this journey on No One Gets Flowers for Chronic Pain.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.