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How I Found Hope Again Despite My Chronic Pain

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I started to re-examine hope only after I began to lose it. I had been dealing with undiagnosed chronic pain for numerous years, and my belief that I would ever find relief began to wane.

Chronic pain was an unnatural occurrence for me to try to deal with, and I naturally hoped for relief. Hope is made up of both a desire and an expectation for something. I possessed both desire and expectation in equal amounts, which led me to believe with great vigor that I would find a solution for my pain.

However, after many failed attempts at a diagnosis and more medications, supplements and therapies than I can remember, my expectation for a cure or treatment faded. I held on to my expectation longer than I logically should have, but hope is fierce, and I needed it to battle my despair that was subsequently ensuing.

Hope without expectation morphs into pure desire, and that desire began to eat me up. Acceptance of chronic pain came slowly, which left me somewhere between hope and acceptance. Despair, helplessness and bleakness permeated my thoughts and emotions, and I believed hope had failed me and I had no more use for it. Without hope, I realized I would have to find something else to strengthen me, and I didn’t think hope could ever sustain me again.

I tried clinging to numerous other things, but none of them had the power to truly give me the drive I needed to battle the constant pain that threatened to topple me. I struggled in vain to find something that would loom larger than the pain and slowly comprehended this might be an impossibility.

After a while, however, a spark of something I couldn’t identify at first began to flicker. I found that, unexpectedly, the sun shining through my window in the morning made days that immediately started with pain a little bit better. The mint chip ice cream I ate held so much more flavor. I felt like I fully participated more in all the relationships in my life. I noticed the wind in the trees and the excitement of my dog as I walked through my neighborhood much more than I used to. The pain still insisted on blanketing every particle of my life, but now the pain passed between those particles rather than over them.

Eventually, I realized I felt so much more alive only because I had found hope again. This hope was different than the hope I had held before, and it was much more subtle. But it infused itself into the folds of my life, and it slowly became the one thing that did have the power to be bigger than the pain. This hope told me I could find contentment despite the pain. It said I could learn to function without feeling like I was straining against an immutable force. It helped me to believe maybe I could find a way to make some of my dreams and goals for my life come true despite the pain.

My life didn’t change from the outside, but I felt like hope allowed me to believe the pain could become less important. It gave me the belief I could thrive despite my pain.

I had the desire to make my life bigger than the pain, and I now had the expectation also. Desire and expectation came together to produce hope. I had finally figured out exactly how hope played its role in my life, and I, thankfully, finally knew what role it should play.

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Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: June 6, 2016
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