"Do not mistake composure for ease." Lieutenant Tuvok, Star Trek Voyager -
I recently had someone tell me I was 7-10 years younger than I really am and ask how I could talk about any of this stuff when I didn't look like I'd experienced pain a day in my life.
It was quite a paradigm shift for me. You see, I've been immersed in the invisible illness, chronic illness, acute pain, and chronic pain space since I was 14 years old.
I know what I've been through and my people know too.
My mom had health challenges that weren't visible from the outside, so I grew up with the idea that there is ALWAYS more to a person than what is easily seen.
I look at people and wonder what struggles are beneath the surface: What are they feeling right now? Are they hurting today? Have they lost someone? Are they stuck, discouraged, fried, overwhelmed, missing something, fatigued, frustrated, grieving etc...
Like any good dancer from my hometown, I know how to smile through the pain, I know how to function at competitive levels when I'm struggling and I know how to smile when I'm unwell.
Being trained to have carriage and composure doesn't mean I don't struggle. When someone I pass on the street is smiling it doesn't mean they might not be hurting.
Through years of overcoming hardship, I've learned to connect with my struggles, give them names and labels, acknowledge them, but not let them run my life.
I've learned to live mindful of my pains, but not driven by them. The quote I opened with spoke to me because when chronic challenges of any kind are walking partners through life, it can be easy to "mistake composure for ease" in myself and others.
If you're happy, I celebrate with you! If you're sad, I see you. Continuing to press forward regardless of what others think and can see is admirable.
I encourage you to lead your interactions with yourself and others with compassion and curiosity. If I assume I know, I close myself off to what I might learn. Curiosity drives my anti-inflammatory lifestyle because being open to what I don't know is exactly what might change my situation.
Your real health navigator,
#ChronicIllness #ChronicPain #curiosity
Photo Credit❤️ @ojh1photography