Being chronically ill is a full time job. It takes all your patience, energy, emotional wherewithal, and puts a massive dent in your wallet. Spending a significant portion of life leapfrogging from doctor to doctor leaves just enough time to reflect on the insanity of it all. I don’t know about you, but I often want to throw my hands up and just say, “Fuck it!”
And yet, tucked discreetly between the folds of frustration, is another, surprising feeling: comfort.
Sure, we hate being sick, spending all our free time on exam tables, retelling the same sad stories to strangers in white coats. But we have to ask ourselves, if we hate it so much, why are we doing it? Or maybe another way to unpack it is to ask, what are we getting out of it?
This can be a controversial question to pose, the implication being that it’s “all in our heads.” Trust me, even as the person posing the question, I still take offense to it! I’ll be the first to say that I really am sick (and I know you are too!) But, I’ll also be the first to say that, we have an incredible, innate healing capacity. With the right cocktail of patience, diet, lifestyle, relaxation, and mindset (yes, how we view our pain actually changes the way we experience it), many illnesses can be reversed, and downright prevented.
So I’m proposing that comfort is one of the many things that can keep us stuck in Perpetual Patient Land. It is extending our stay in a place we swear we don’t want to be. When we unfold the layers, and take a closer look into the folds, we will reveal some painful truths.
Let’s peel back the layers, shall we?
For one, we like to pretend that we seek out joyful, pleasant experiences in life. That we don’t choose to be miserable. Wrong! We seek out what is familiar, and therefore, comfortable. And, what is familiar for the chronically ill or victimized person? You got it: illness and victimization. We can’t help it - that’s all we know. So, while venturing into a world where we might actually feel healthy and empowered may seem like the ultimate goal, it’s actually terrifying. So terrifying, on some level, we actually prefer to remain in pain. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who has lived with MS for years aptly said, “I don’t know who I am without this illness.” It’s that push-pull of desperately wanting to heal, yet being petrified of that very thing.
So here we are, finding ourselves frequently sick out of sheer, unconscious habit. I’m reminded of this each time I feel sick and rush to get a new round of tests and blood work, only to be told, “Everything looks fine.” Then I start to wonder, with a perfectly clean bill of health, why is my body feeling crappy enough to bring me back to a doctor? Habit, comfort, familiarity.
#Habit #ChronicPain #Comfort