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When Life's Demands Wear on You Until Pain Says 'Enough'

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Here’s the thing about chronic pain. It doesn’t go away. So you get used to pushing yourself, you get the “I’m doing great!” mask that rarely slips and you get things done. Normal things, errands, dishes, laundry, intermittent caregiving, work, changing the sheets, having a root canal, thinking about a business plan or two; life. Only you see the exhaustion and go through the flare-ups, but you “still push” because America or something.


Well, kidlets, the more you do, the more people think you can do, and then, inevitably, the more there is to do. But pain, right? Pain is still there, sucking energy. Then a day like today hits. When the constant distractions and demands catch up, and all you can do is cry. Because the world at large ties your value to your productivity, and dammit, somehow, despite your rebel yell, you’ve internalized this. All the things, the 80 things that need attention right now, aren’t going to get another piece of you. Where’s your value now?

x-ray of screws in a woman's spine

Thus, tears. Because pain isn’t just pain. Pain is my expectations, and yours. Pain is disappointing, discomforting and destabilizing. It’s dehumanizing. And every now and then, it all catches up to you at once. And there’s nothing to be done except be in it. So. I’m in it. Grrr blah hiss f*** sigh.

It’s not pretty. It’s a hard journey, and sometimes you feel like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. You have. Everyone seems to live at defcon one, and you can’t keep up. It’s impossible. I have almost bi-monthly breakdowns. I wish I could figure out how to fix this so I can live and thrive and maybe even have some damn joy, without the relentless awareness that it all comes at a cost.

woman's hand under water with a tattoo on her wrist that says 'breathe'

I’ll breathe. I’ll reach out to trustworthy friends. I’ll cry because crying is what’s called for. It’s OK that this sucks right now. There’s no way through it but through it. See you on the other side.

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Originally published: July 10, 2017
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