To My Loved Ones Who Question Whether My Pain Is Real

As if learning to live with any type of chronic pain condition isn’t hard enough, some of us may also have to cope with a loved one who questions if our pain is real. This just adds to our emotional trauma of being forced to adjust to a life while living with chronic pain.

Talking to our loved ones is the only way to let them know how we’re feeling, and sometimes it’s easier to put it down on paper, so I’ve done just that:

Dear Loved Ones,

There is so much I want to say to you. I want you to understand I didn’t ask to have a chronic pain conditions, and I understand you didn’t ask for me to, either. I understand what affects me also affects you, and I never wanted you to be affected. I often feel guilty that you’re impacted, too, but I still need and want you in my life — please stay. I need you now more than I could have ever imagined. Besides, I’m still the same person and am truly trying my best to learn how to cope with this pain so the impact on you and myself will be as minimal as possible.

If only I could fix my chronic pain condition, I would. I want you to know I’m not asking you to fix me. Let’s leave this up to my medical team, so it doesn’t cause an issue between us. I understand you want to help me, but sometimes I get tired of hearing about “cures” or “fixes.” Honestly, if it were that simple, I wouldn’t be in pain. So what I’m saying is, I don’t expect nor want you to take on the role that my medical team should be playing.

Although I have my spouse and children, sometimes I feel so alone in this fight. I love these people more than life itself, which is why I don’t want to feel like I’m placing my burden solely on their shoulders.

I never want my spouse to feel like he’s more of a caregiver than my spouse, lover and best friend. It can completely change the way he looks at me, and I don’t want to ruin our relationship over my chronic pain condition.

My children, on the other hand, are just that — my children. Similar to my spouse, I don’t ever want them to see me as anything other than their parent and friend. The truth of the matter is that these people are with me every day, and so they’re impacted regardless if they want to be or not, so I’m asking you to please help me feel like I’m not alone.

Most of the time, I don’t need much more than an ear or a shoulder, and it helps me to talk about what I’m feeling. As much as I don’t want my pain to define me or for it to always be a topic of discussion, I need you to understand that I live with it daily and sometimes it’s nearly impossible to overlook. It can be extremely hard to focus on anything else, especially when my pain is at its worst. I’ll try my best not to make it my topic of discussion, but if it comes up, please just try your best to listen.

Although you know I’m living each day in pain, please don’t avoid asking me how I’m doing. Most of the time, I won’t want to bother you with my pain and will respond with, “I’m OK!” or “I’m still alive and kicking!”

On the occasion I respond with more, please understand it’s only because my pain is at its worst, and I can’t think of anything else. We’re family or friends, so asking this is just a way for you to show me you still truly care. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded why I’m still fighting this battle. I would never consider myself to be a needy person, but being in pain every day sometimes makes me wonder if you’d be better off without me. I want to know you still want me in your life despite what I’m going through and how it impacts you and your life.

Although sometimes I’m actively participating in things, it doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. Unfortunately, this is just part of what I’m learning and struggling to live with. As time goes on, I’m finding out what I can and cannot do. Sometimes I have to tell myself it’s only pain, and as much as it hurts like hell, the fact remains, it won’t kill me.

I want you to know sometimes there are things I feel like I have to or need to do no matter the cost or price I pay, like things that are part of my job title, whether it’s my career, volunteer work or as a spouse and/or parent. I’m also learning to choose recreational fun wisely because I want to always continue to “live” or there’s really no point to my existence. So if I have to reschedule our plans, I hope you’ll understand it’s because the pain is too bad, and I don’t want it to ruin our time. It’s hard for me to make plans because there’s no predicting chronic pain. I want to feel like I can put my health first without hurting the feelings of those I care about.

I wish sometimes my pain would reflect on the exterior of my body so that everyone could visually see what I’m going through. Unfortunately, a multitude of chronic pain conditions are invisible and hard for others to understand or sometimes believe. It’s easier to believe it if you can see it, but that’s not always the way some medical conditions work. So please always remember that no matter what it looks like to you from the outside, I’m struggling in the inside to get through each day. Sometimes when I’m smiling, it’s only for your sake and others around me. I’m trying my best to be my positive self and hope that it will get better someday.

I hope this helps you understand a little better about what I’m going through as a person with chronic pain conditions. If you ever want to know more, feel comfortable asking me. You’re important to me, and I don’t want my pain to ruin the bond we have.

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