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How I Learned to Walk the Tight Rope of Life With Chronic Pain

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I’ve found that living with chronic pain is a constant balancing act. Each day I have to monitor how my body is doing so I don’t create flare-ups. I have to check in with myself emotionally so I can keep on an even keel and stay as positive as possible. I have to say no to many things I would like to do so I can say yes to healing.

All of us living with pain have to become masters at this. We have to learn to walk the path in the middle of extremes.


How Much Is Too Much?

I have to learn to pay just the right amount of attention to my pain without becoming its servant or making my entire existence about taking care of it, but also not living in complete denial and trying to numb myself out both physically and emotionally so I don’t feel anything.

I’m learning to live as positively as possible, while not pretending everything is fine (never talking about our pain or expressing it) or going to the other end of the spectrum and becoming someone who lives as a victim awash in powerlessness.

I’m learning to walk the middle path of honoring my emotional self and my feelings about being in pain and how that limits my life. I’m learning that shoving them back down again can just cause more pain later.

Saying Yes, Saying No

I have to find that balance point between the yes and the no, between going too far into a kind of forced positivity and giving up and sliding into depression and hopelessness.

I’m learning to be able to find ways to continue to participate in life while still living within my physical limits, somehow finding a balance between overdoing it and making myself worse or becoming a shut-away.

I have to learn to say no without becoming overly negative. Instead, I’m learning to say it from a place of self-awareness and self-respect. No, I don’t want any more advice, thanks. No, I will not be available today. No, I do not choose that treatment right now.

And I’m learning to say yes to myself. Yes, to taking it slow. Yes, to being alone when I need to. Yes, to help when it’s offered. Yes, to doing things that feel nurturing and healing. Yes, to what I need in the moment, even if it’s an unpopular choice with others.

Becoming a Master of Balance

This is my challenge. It is the challenge of every human to some extent, but for those of us living with pain, it is more sharply highlighted, more immediate and more necessary. It becomes a daily practice, often an hourly practice.

person balancing while walking on a log

In a way, it’s my spiritual path. Becoming more aware of myself and my own needs in balance with those around me and in balance with the demands from my condition.

All of us who live with chronic pain become adept at walking that middle road. We become masters of balance, saying no when it matters and saying yes to ourselves, which matters even more.

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Originally published: August 17, 2017
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