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What a Pair of Maternity Jeans Taught Me About Healing

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Today I bought a pair of maternity jeans. You know, the kind with the wildly stretchy waistband attached to otherwise normal-looking jeans.

And before you ask, no, I’m not pregnant. And I’m not planning on being pregnant anytime soon.

So why did I buy maternity jeans? Well, the answer is kind of embarrassing — so much so that it kept me from buying them for a long time.

I live with fibromyalgia and amplified musculoskeletal pain. With that comes a lot of unpleasant symptoms and pain. Abdominal pain is one of my main symptoms. No matter how much I restrict trigger foods from my diet, I still face a myriad of gastrointestinal issues and pain. The waistband of most jeans and even some leggings often feel like barbed wire cutting into my body. The slightest pressure can heighten my discomfort. Not to mention my fluctuating weight makes finding jeans that fit nearly impossible.

I’ve seen other chronic pain patients swear by maternity clothes for abdominal pain. Maternity clothes are literally designed for comfort and support and they also solve the fluctuating weight problem. They’re really the perfect solution.

So why would I wait so long to try on a pair? Why wait to see if it would be a perfect solution for me? This is what I was asking myself in the changing room today when I slipped on the pair of clearance maternity jeans that looked like they had been made just for me. They were incredibly comfortable, cheap and eased my pain immediately.

But I remembered why I had waited so long to give it a try. To me, those pants represented so much more. They represented loss. Loss of health. Loss of control. Loss of hope. And with any loss comes the emotions of grief. I am grieving the life I have lost.

Admitting to myself that my stomach pain is so bad that I can’t even wear regular jeans without pain is hard for me. Admitting that pants made for pregnant mothers ease my pain makes me feel weak. And when I feel weak, fear begins to whisper some pretty nasty lies in my ear.

I start wondering if people think I’m “crazy.” I start wondering if I am. I doubt my strength and my resilience until my self-worth is decimated, all because I’m afraid of what people will think of me. These doubts still creep in almost daily. But slowly, I’m defeating the negative part of myself that believes those things and I’m replacing it with grace to let go of the things I can’t control.

I let pride rob me of pain relief. I let fear rob me of comfort.

Today reminded me that I don’t have to live like I’m a slave to this fear. I know what’s real.

What’s real is I fight every day against pain, and it is exhausting. I’m not going to turn down relief just because it’s socially awkward to buy maternity pants for GI pain.

What’s real is it takes strength to come as far as I have on this journey. I’m not weak for admitting when I need something to change.

What’s real is that it doesn’t even matter what other people think of my decisions regarding how I treat and manage my illnesses. They aren’t me.

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know it’s OK to relinquish control. It’s OK to let go. It might hurt, but it doesn’t make you weak. Friend, it makes you so incredibly strong. The moment you let go is the moment you begin to heal.

I bought the jeans and I honestly can’t wait to wear them. I don’t know what you’re on the fence about today. Maybe you’ve been debating a mobility aid like a cane or a wheelchair, but you’re afraid that you don’t need it badly enough. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about going to therapy, but you’re worried about what other people think of you.

Friend. Get the wheelchair. Try therapy. Buy the freaking maternity jeans.

And start healing.

Getty image by AG Creative Lab.

Originally published: October 4, 2019
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