The Mighty Logo

To Anyone Who Has a ‘Thing’ You Don't Like to Talk About

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I have the best people.

I have people that save me seats at church, places at yoga and cupcakes.

I have people to work out with, not work at work with, talk Netflix with and not talk at all with.

I have people to drink coffee with, to drink tea with and to drink wine with.

I have people to eat sushi with, pie with and lunch after church with.

I have people to laugh with until my stomach hurts and people I can call when I want to cry. Usually they are the same people.

I have people that have seen me in my yoga pants, my pajama pants and even a select few who have seen me in a swimsuit.

I have people that I share good music with, good books with and good food with.

I have people to go on adventures with and people to do absolutely nothing with.

I have people I can count on — to show up, to bring coffee or to always be late.

I get to live with three of my favorite humans ever (except when they are fighting or snoring).

I could go on… but I think at this point I am just bragging.

I haven’t always. It takes time and intention to build and maintain this kind of community. Sometimes it even takes a while to notice. I know mine is there and I am so ridiculously grateful for it.


The last time I went to the doctor, he asked me about symptoms and medications. He did some tests. My voice did not waver as I talked about pain and surgery. Just before I left my voice shook a little as I told him that it was isolating. That I don’t know anyone else. That I don’t know who to ask questions or commiserate with. He didn’t have a prescription to give me for that. Sometimes I fork over a copay of $52 a session to talk to someone else. I say all kinds of things, but mostly it comes down to this: I feel alone.

I had surgery in July. It helped. Most days are good, but some days there is still a significant amount of pain and there are so many things that I have given up or am now afraid of, even simple things like the wind. I rarely want to talk about it. Most of the time I don’t even want people to know.

But I so want them to get it.

People can’t get what you don’t tell them.

I am only alone because I chose to be.

And the truth is I am not alone at all.

My “thing” is physical pain.

I know people whose thing is depression.

I know people whose thing is addiction.

I know people whose thing is body image.

I know people whose thing is singleness.

I know people whose thing is cancer.

I know people whose thing is a hard marriage.

I know people whose thing is fertility.

We all have our thing.

Yesterday I saw a video on Facebook that nailed my particular thing.

The first half of the video was a girl talking about how she spent the first half-dozen years with her thing not telling people, of hiding it. How she was less afraid of excruciating pain and more afraid of not being able to do things she loves. I wanted to, but I didn’t post it on my wall. Which is ridiculous, because I post all kinds of funny, embarrassing things about myself. Part of me wanted to share it, but then some other part wanted to hyperventilate just thinking about it. 

What I really didn’t want to do is own it.

What I really didn’t want to do is to admit the fear.

What I really didn’t want to do is burden others with my burden.

What I really didn’t want is for people to identify me with my thing.

My thing has enough power over my life that I feel like talking about it more only gives it more power.

But what gives our things power is silence.

What gives our things power is isolation.

I think I have been waiting on someone to have my exact same thing.

Everyone wants to hear “me too,” but maybe our “me too’s” don’t have to be exactly the same to get it. To stop being alone.

We all have our thing.

If you are lucky enough like me, then you also have your people.

I am a girl who used to pride herself on going first.

So let me go first and tell you…

I have this thing. It eats at me. It isolates me. It exhausts me. 

It is not who I am.

Yours is not the same, but I bet you sometimes feel the exact same way.

I bet lots of people do.

Follow this journey on I Don’t Believe in Grammar.

 The Mighty is asking its readers the following: What’s one secret about you or your loved one’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

*Sign up for our Chronic Illness Newsletter*

Originally published: June 22, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home