Tara Clifton

@taraclifton | contributor
Tara is a college student that is interested in chronic and mental illness advocacy. She has various anxiety disorders and is an endometriosis warrior.
Tara Clifton

A Letter to My Younger Self About Recovering From Abuse

July 14, 2018 Today is the last day she will ever lay her hands on you. You and her go hand in hand to be surrounded by friends just hours after it happened. You wipe away the tears and push down the idea her putting her hands on you wasn’t normal. You start to think you deserved it and just needed to be better next time. You promise yourself you won’t make that joke again because it upset her. You put on a smile and sit next to her, swallowing the trauma that occurred. You disassociate and force yourself to forget. You sit there, joking and laughing. You smile so forcefully for photos, clutching the woman who just left bruises on you. You go home with her later and comfort her while she cries about hitting you. She apologizes again and again. You accept it and wipe away her tears just as you wiped your own tears earlier, the tears that she caused. In two months, you will talk to her for the last time and you will feel so free. You will put down your phone at the end of the abusive strings of texts and you will never be subjected to that again. This is the first time you recognized you deserve better. You slip your phone into your pocket, stand up and walk back to your dorm room with tear-stained cheeks. You call your friends and go get your nose pierced. This will be your first act of genuine self-love in over a year and a half. After your friends return you to your dorm room with hugs and promises of a better tomorrow, you go to bed believing them. This is the day you start to heal a wound that has existed for far too long. You will start to unravel the web of lies she had spun for you: that you are worthless, deserved to be hurt, alone in the world without her. You unravel and untangle the way you were able to ignore her abusive and manipulative lies. In time, you will be able to go places without looking over your shoulder. You will stop jumping when you hear your phone ring. You won’t fear the safety of being in love again. I know one day I will be able to pass this day without panic and deep sorrow. Until then, I mourn my ability to trust freely and blindly. I mourn nightmares that don’t end with me having bruises. I mourn life without the heavy weight of the trauma of abuse. Nonetheless, I hold myself in the mourning before brushing myself off, my head high and remembering how far I have come. In three years, you will be so much happier than you ever imagined possible. The flashbacks come less often. The weight becomes lighter because you have more people to help you carry it. You will learn that you aren’t alone. You learn to love yourself so fiercely and independently.

Tara Clifton

When Your Vulnerability Is Used Against You as an Abuse Survivor

Recently, I spoke out against the abuse I faced in a previous relationship. The people I had told before publishing this piece reacted with respect and love. I had not faced any backlash regarding my post either. I nervously checked comments every day, bracing myself to see someone comment that it was my fault or I am making a bigger deal out of this than I should be. It never came. A few weeks after I posted it, I could finally relax and begin to feel confident and comfortable in my work. I pushed through the negative self-talk, self-doubt and irrational fears surrounding my writing to post it. I felt proud and supported by everyone who commented or read it and personally reached out to me. I felt like I was helping people realize they were not alone in their experiences. I continued to feel like that until last week, when in a heated argument, that very article I had spent weeks crying and stricken with anxiety over was used against me. It was used as an insult as though me coming forward about my experience was something to be ashamed of. It was my biggest fear coming true. I knew it was possible because I had published something so personal to the world, I expected the backlash to come from the person who I was in an abusive relationship with or a random comment. I was not expecting it to happen in this setting, with this person, or used like this. It took the steady ground out from underneath me and brought me back into the headspace of blaming myself. I found myself thinking what they had said was true, maybe I did deserve it, maybe it was my fault. I stayed in that headspace for about a week. As a highly sensitive person, words stick with me a lot more and are not as easy to brush off. Since this happened, I have moments where I keep repeating those statements to myself, thinking maybe it is true. Because hearing the people who say they love you the most talk about you in ways that cut deepest is a different pain. People using your vulnerable side and most painful experiences as bait to get you upset is the hardest pill to swallow. Sometimes you will be in a situation when only you are in your corner fighting for you. Sometimes nobody else will be there to stand up for you or support you. Just know being vulnerable is one of the hardest things you can do in life. If that is seen as one of the worst things about you, that it can be used against as if it is a defect, you are doing pretty good. If being vulnerable and opening up about the painful experiences considered taboo is a flaw, then I wish all survivors the ability to harness their inner flaw. If my coming forward about the abuse I experienced scares you, then you must doubt the kind of woman and survivor I am. If my vulnerability is a flaw, it is the best damn flaw anyone could have. The strength and pain it takes to be vulnerable with yourself and others is a struggle for so many people, including myself. Looking back and having that thrown in my face is laughable. Yes, it hurt and it hurt bad. But for vulnerability to be seen as a negative quality requires so much illogical reasoning, it is not even worth the mental gymnastics. Even though during this moment, nobody who was present was in my corner, I still have so many people who are on my side. The most important person on my side is me. I know the truth in my story, and I know my vulnerability scares people. I know the strength and courage it took to tell my story to the world for anyone to see. Helping people by talking about taboo subjects is never shameful. I showed the world my darkest secret and made others feel less alone. If your vulnerability was used against you, please know that even if it feels like nobody is on your side when you feel the strength to tell your story, whatever and however that may be, you always have two people there: yourself and me cheering you on. I hope anyone who uses your braveness and vulnerability against you never has to feel what you went through. Do not doubt yourself and your story for a second. Gaslighting is a very good manipulator, but stand firm in your truth. Lean on the community of survivors around you and try to ignore those who belittle you. Standing from the other side: trust me it is worth it.

Tara Clifton

Surviving Domestic Abuse as Someone With a Chronic Illness

I want to tell people about how my chronic illness made me stay with someone who chose to harm me. I want to tell people about how chronic illness made me feel so unworthy and unlovable. I want to tell people about how I believed nobody could ever love the “sick girl” so I stayed with someone who did not respect me. Being newly diagnosed at the time of the start of my relationship, I was in constant pain and so overwhelmed with my illness. I had no idea how to navigate the next chapter of my life with a chronic illness on top of my already draining anxiety disorders. I was so fragile and vulnerable, I did not have the ability to know I deserved love, kindness and respect. I felt like my diagnosis of endometriosis and severe anxiety made me hard to love. I thought I was too much to handle because of it. I saw myself as a burden to other people’s lives and people had to just put up with me. I thought this relationship was the best I was going to get. I thought there was no possibility I could find another person to love me with a laundry list of issues and conditions. I did not open up about my experience to anyone until almost two years later. I still felt guilty about telling people, scared that they would believe I was overreacting or deserved it. The first person I chose to tell looked at me and said “It never starts out with someone just trying to kill their significant other. It starts out small and gets bigger until you can’t get out.” It took weeks of building up the courage to tell my therapist of five years. I had pushed it down so much that I did not feel worthy of the support my friends were giving me. I kept telling my friends “I know other people have it worse so this probably isn’t that big of a deal.” I was always met with the most amazing love and support. Since parting ways with this person, I have clung to a sense of heavy guilt that this harm will never be disclosed to their future partners. I have somehow spun myself a web of lies that makes me believe the future harm this person could inflict is my fault. Sometimes I think back to the girl crying on the bathroom floor over a person who chooses to physically and mentally hurt the person they claimed to love. I want to scoop her up and hold her close. I want to tell her that everything is going to be OK. I don’t deserve to be hurt like this; I will be more than OK in time. When I start to blame myself or feel guilt wash over me, I remind myself that my future self is holding me. I remind myself that I no longer have to protect the reputation of the person who chose to harm me. I remind myself that what they chose to do or not do is not caused by my actions, every person is responsible for their own choices and how they treat others. I now have a much stronger sense of self and self-worth. I have grown and changed in the years since this happened. I am no longer seeking validation and comfort in other people, I have it in myself. Despite only coming to terms and coming out about my experience recently, I understand the strength and vulnerability it took for me to tell the first person in my life. I know now that I am not a burden in people’s lives because of my experiences or diagnosis. I am a blessing in people’s lives because I have experiences that allow me to have great empathy and patience. People do not invite me in my life in spite of my “baggage,” they invite me in because I am a person who is worthy of their time and love — whether or not I have an illness. We all come with “baggage” or painful past experiences. Nobody gets to go through life without it. There tends to be this idea that people should be grateful for the pain and painful experiences they were forced to go through. I don’t subscribe to that belief. I am grateful for my growth and how much I have changed in the years since this occurred. But being grateful for the pain that caused me to grow feels like I am grateful or grew for the person who chose to harm me. None of that is true. I grew for myself. I grew by myself. My growth is completely separate from the person who chose to do harm to my body and mind. To myself, thank you for having courage when it felt like this was your fault. Thank you for having the strength and vulnerability to share your story in the hope to support and honor those who have similar experiences. Thank you for loving yourself back together. To those who held up my head when I felt ashamed by another person’s actions towards me, thank you and I am always grateful for you. Your love means the world to me and continues to push me when things feel hard. You are my people and my loves. To the one who shows me what good love is, you inspire and lift me up when my heart feels too heavy. I adore you always. To those who are crying on the bathroom floor now, I am holding space for you in my heart. I feel for you and please know you are strong enough to continue. Life will be better and you will hold love in your heart that does not hurt, I promise.

Tara Clifton

Chronic Illness and College Don't Match

I dread weekends on campus. I dread hearing the gaggles of friends walking towards the fraternity house as I lay on my heating pad. I try to remind myself that even if I could party like “normal” kids do, I probably wouldn’t even want to. But I still feel this heavy weight on my chest when the weekend rolls around because it continues the ever-present reminder that I am different. If it is not a flare-up, it’s an anxiety attack that leaves me too scared to even leave the house. It feels like a never-ending battle between myself, my body and the expectations of the world around me. The movies make college out to be the best four years of your life, when you find your life long best friends and the love of your life, when you party all night with the people that know you the best, when you are carefree and have no responsibilities. That is what I want. That is what I so desperately wish I could have. I want to be carefree and have no responsibilities. I want to say I hate college. The idea of hating something that I am putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into physically pains me. In reality, I hate the societal image of college. I hate the pressure I feel to live up to this imaginary and scripted narrative of the best four years of your life. I don’t have the friend group, the person I am going to marry and the pictures of nights I can’t remember. Instead I have phone logs of tearful calls to my mom, appointments with my therapist, appointments with my physical therapist and a never ending cycle of guilt and anxiety surrounding the image of college. It feels like I am left out of an experience that is quintessential to the development of a healthy young adult. Since my freshman year, I feel like everyone else was gifted a guidebook on “how to do college,” and mine got lost in the shuffle. I feel like I am wasting a jaw-dropping amount of money to feel left out and isolated for reasons that are beyond my control. College is designed for and by able-bodied and minded folks. It was not designed with chronic illness or mental illness in mind. This is what leads to the constant tug of war in my heart of understanding that these expectations are merely created by Hollywood to make money and feeling gut-wrenching anxiety of being left out. The logic aspect is consistently looked over when the self-loathing and disappointment kicks in. Why can’t my body just work? Why can’t I just feel “normal?” Why can’t I just have something normal in my life? I hate my body for not working right. To all of my fellow chronic illness warriors that feel lonely on Saturday nights and alone in the mental tug of war, I see you.

Tara Clifton

Relatable Tweet Nails What Chronic Pain Is Really Like

If you’re a chronic pain warrior, you probably know the struggle of explaining your pain to others. Lucky for us though, over the weekend, Twitter user trev (@revalation218) posted a relatable tweet that explains chronic pain in an easily understandable (and humorous!) way. Their tweet quickly went viral because it nails what it’s really like to live with chronic pain. The tweet reads: chronic pain be like meh i’m used to it meh i’m used to it meh i’m used to it meh i’m used to it I’M SO TIRED OF BEING IN PAIN ALL THE TIME I HATE MY BODY I HATE BEING LIKE THIS EVERYTHING IS AGONY PLEASE MAKE IT STOP I’M EXHAUSTED PLEASE meh i’m used to it meh i’m used to it chronic pain be likemeh i'm used to itmeh i'm used to itmeh i'm used to itmeh i'm used to itI'M SO TIRED OF BEING IN PAIN ALL THE TIME I HATE MY BODY I HATE BEING LIKE THIS EVERYTHING IS AGONY PLEASE MAKE IT STOP I'M EXHAUSTED PLEASEmeh i'm used to itmeh i'm used to it— trev???? (@careebearstaree) March 1, 2020 Chronic pain and chronic illness often go hand in hand. As trev pointed out in the tweet, the pain associated with a chronic illness can slowly become your “new normal.” As someone who lives with chronic illness, it is almost impossible for me to remember the last time I had a day without pain. It is also almost impossible for me to imagine my future without pain too. I have been through the cycle of being used to the pain, then suddenly remembering, “This is not ‘normal!’” and becoming inconsolable more times than I would like to admit. The sudden realization that your chronic pain could last forever is terrifying and so incredibly isolating. The cycle of acceptance and grief shown in this tweet could not be truer for people with chronic pain. When I try to explain the cycle of chronic pain to people around me, I usually say it’s like becoming extremely aware of blinking. Most of us are aware that we blink all day without consciously doing it. But once we become aware of the sensation of blinking, it feels overwhelming and all-consuming. Eventually, we get distracted and forget about our blinking pattern. To people who experience chronic pain, pain is just like another automatic process of the body: breathing, blinking, pain. Even with this analogy, it is hard for people who do not experience chronic pain to understand. For most people when they have a pounding headache that feels like it won’t ever go away, they can take an Advil and it will be gone in about an hour. To them, pain is always manageable and has a cure. For people with chronic pain, we don’t have the privilege of that relief ever. When the pain is too much to be distracted from, life becomes overwhelming, or chronic pain gets in the way of living life to the fullest, exhaustion and desperation can seep in. Whatever helped you get used to the pain can disappear and the reality of chronic pain floods in. The realization that being in pain all of the time could last forever is one of the darkest feelings. We start to question how we have done it for so long and how we can continue living like this because it is so incredibly exhausting to feel pain every moment of every day. Chronic pain doesn’t only exist physically — emotional and mental pain accompanies it. The idea of the future can seem impossible with chronic pain, but after surviving with it for so long, the body and mind become used to it. We get distracted by life again, become used to the pain again, and so the cycle begins. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. We are all in this together. There are always brighter days ahead. Chronic pain can’t defeat us, it only makes us stronger.

Community Voices

What Chronic Pain Took From Me

I miss myself before I had ever heard the word “#Endometriosis.”

Now it is all I can think about.

I miss my belief in doctors and their magical healing abilities.

Now I resent them for not being able to help me.

I miss living life as carefree as I once did.

Now I am restricted by my own body.

I miss not being able to understand #ChronicPain on a physical level.

Now I only know chronic pain.

I miss when I only had the ability to be empathetic instead of sympathetic to those with chronic illnesses.

Now my only support is through those who also suffer.

I miss being able to participate in life.

Now every activity has a painful consequence.

I miss only going to the doctor once a year.

Now my monthly medical bills run up my parents’ credit cards.

I miss having only ever taken pain killers when I had my wisdom teeth removed.

Now they are the only way I can get through the day.

I miss believing that nothing could stop me from achieving my dreams.

Now I fear that my pain is greater than any hope I have for my future.

I miss me.

Now I fight to get my life back.

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Tara Clifton

What It's Like Living in a Constant State of Pain

Chronic pain is the most complex and difficult feeling to describe. It is my constant feeling. It is the same as asking someone to describe how breathing and blinking feels. It is less of a feeling, it is more of a state of existing. Every time I go to the doctor or emergency room, they ask me to rate my pain on a scale of one to 10 and describe it. It is almost impossible to remember the last time I had a pain-free day, I have days that are manageable but not close to pain-free. This makes it impossible to rate my pain, if I have no “one” on my scale. I have days with less pain to compare it to but that is the extent of my ranking ability. Chronic pain patients cannot be asked to identify their pain the same way as people without. It is totally different. It is comparing a child who has not had a true meal in months and is legitimately starving to death to someone who had to fast for 12 hours. It is simply not the same. When they ask me to describe it, I have to hold back laughter. It feels like my life, it feels like my existence. It feels like staying at home on a Friday night when all of my friends go out and have fun. It feels like blinking back tears when the elevator is broken and I have to climb six floors to go to my apartment, knowing I will move as slowly as possible and still hurt after. It feels like having scars from a heating pad burn my skin from using it for hours on end. It feels like an overbearing parents or controlling partner that I constantly have to check in with and see if I am allowed to do something. It feels like the worst day of the flu but you are expected to continuing living your life. Nobody cares that you have the flu and you need to stop complaining because “everyone has aches and pains.” My life exists in a constant state of pain. My body is constantly hurting. My mind is constantly hurting from being held back from my dreams because of my body’s limitations. When I am asked to describe it, I cannot express it in words like “throbbing, aching, stabbing, or burning” because that isn’t what it is. Those terms express a surface level pain. It is the way that you describe a burn from a stove or a sprained ankle. This pain is constant. It feels like the worst leg cramp of your life but lasts for hours on end. It feels like my knees are going to give out on me at any second because I am pushing myself to be on the same level as my peers. It feels like there is something inside of me trying to claw its way out of my abdomen. It feels like I ran into a brick wall repeatedly. These are feelings most people cannot fathom. Since most people cannot fathom the idea of being in pain all of the time, not showing it, and continuing to go about your daily life they just chose to ignore it. Whether that is to protect themselves against the idea that a loved one could hurt that much and they can’t help or it is out of disbelief because they cannot see the condition causing the pain, it is a reality for millions of people. Understand why it is difficult to explain to people without chronic pain. Believe people can still be hurting even if you don’t see them struggling. Be there for them when nobody else is. Try to be understanding when they may be short tempered with you. Understand that chronic pain is terrifying and isolating because there is no promise that we will ever feel better. Give us hope that even if there is no promise of a pain free day, there is the promise of people that love and care.

Tara Clifton

What It's Like Living in a Constant State of Pain

Chronic pain is the most complex and difficult feeling to describe. It is my constant feeling. It is the same as asking someone to describe how breathing and blinking feels. It is less of a feeling, it is more of a state of existing. Every time I go to the doctor or emergency room, they ask me to rate my pain on a scale of one to 10 and describe it. It is almost impossible to remember the last time I had a pain-free day, I have days that are manageable but not close to pain-free. This makes it impossible to rate my pain, if I have no “one” on my scale. I have days with less pain to compare it to but that is the extent of my ranking ability. Chronic pain patients cannot be asked to identify their pain the same way as people without. It is totally different. It is comparing a child who has not had a true meal in months and is legitimately starving to death to someone who had to fast for 12 hours. It is simply not the same. When they ask me to describe it, I have to hold back laughter. It feels like my life, it feels like my existence. It feels like staying at home on a Friday night when all of my friends go out and have fun. It feels like blinking back tears when the elevator is broken and I have to climb six floors to go to my apartment, knowing I will move as slowly as possible and still hurt after. It feels like having scars from a heating pad burn my skin from using it for hours on end. It feels like an overbearing parents or controlling partner that I constantly have to check in with and see if I am allowed to do something. It feels like the worst day of the flu but you are expected to continuing living your life. Nobody cares that you have the flu and you need to stop complaining because “everyone has aches and pains.” My life exists in a constant state of pain. My body is constantly hurting. My mind is constantly hurting from being held back from my dreams because of my body’s limitations. When I am asked to describe it, I cannot express it in words like “throbbing, aching, stabbing, or burning” because that isn’t what it is. Those terms express a surface level pain. It is the way that you describe a burn from a stove or a sprained ankle. This pain is constant. It feels like the worst leg cramp of your life but lasts for hours on end. It feels like my knees are going to give out on me at any second because I am pushing myself to be on the same level as my peers. It feels like there is something inside of me trying to claw its way out of my abdomen. It feels like I ran into a brick wall repeatedly. These are feelings most people cannot fathom. Since most people cannot fathom the idea of being in pain all of the time, not showing it, and continuing to go about your daily life they just chose to ignore it. Whether that is to protect themselves against the idea that a loved one could hurt that much and they can’t help or it is out of disbelief because they cannot see the condition causing the pain, it is a reality for millions of people. Understand why it is difficult to explain to people without chronic pain. Believe people can still be hurting even if you don’t see them struggling. Be there for them when nobody else is. Try to be understanding when they may be short tempered with you. Understand that chronic pain is terrifying and isolating because there is no promise that we will ever feel better. Give us hope that even if there is no promise of a pain free day, there is the promise of people that love and care.

Tara Clifton

What It's Like Living in a Constant State of Pain

Chronic pain is the most complex and difficult feeling to describe. It is my constant feeling. It is the same as asking someone to describe how breathing and blinking feels. It is less of a feeling, it is more of a state of existing. Every time I go to the doctor or emergency room, they ask me to rate my pain on a scale of one to 10 and describe it. It is almost impossible to remember the last time I had a pain-free day, I have days that are manageable but not close to pain-free. This makes it impossible to rate my pain, if I have no “one” on my scale. I have days with less pain to compare it to but that is the extent of my ranking ability. Chronic pain patients cannot be asked to identify their pain the same way as people without. It is totally different. It is comparing a child who has not had a true meal in months and is legitimately starving to death to someone who had to fast for 12 hours. It is simply not the same. When they ask me to describe it, I have to hold back laughter. It feels like my life, it feels like my existence. It feels like staying at home on a Friday night when all of my friends go out and have fun. It feels like blinking back tears when the elevator is broken and I have to climb six floors to go to my apartment, knowing I will move as slowly as possible and still hurt after. It feels like having scars from a heating pad burn my skin from using it for hours on end. It feels like an overbearing parents or controlling partner that I constantly have to check in with and see if I am allowed to do something. It feels like the worst day of the flu but you are expected to continuing living your life. Nobody cares that you have the flu and you need to stop complaining because “everyone has aches and pains.” My life exists in a constant state of pain. My body is constantly hurting. My mind is constantly hurting from being held back from my dreams because of my body’s limitations. When I am asked to describe it, I cannot express it in words like “throbbing, aching, stabbing, or burning” because that isn’t what it is. Those terms express a surface level pain. It is the way that you describe a burn from a stove or a sprained ankle. This pain is constant. It feels like the worst leg cramp of your life but lasts for hours on end. It feels like my knees are going to give out on me at any second because I am pushing myself to be on the same level as my peers. It feels like there is something inside of me trying to claw its way out of my abdomen. It feels like I ran into a brick wall repeatedly. These are feelings most people cannot fathom. Since most people cannot fathom the idea of being in pain all of the time, not showing it, and continuing to go about your daily life they just chose to ignore it. Whether that is to protect themselves against the idea that a loved one could hurt that much and they can’t help or it is out of disbelief because they cannot see the condition causing the pain, it is a reality for millions of people. Understand why it is difficult to explain to people without chronic pain. Believe people can still be hurting even if you don’t see them struggling. Be there for them when nobody else is. Try to be understanding when they may be short tempered with you. Understand that chronic pain is terrifying and isolating because there is no promise that we will ever feel better. Give us hope that even if there is no promise of a pain free day, there is the promise of people that love and care.

Tara Clifton

What It's Like Living in a Constant State of Pain

Chronic pain is the most complex and difficult feeling to describe. It is my constant feeling. It is the same as asking someone to describe how breathing and blinking feels. It is less of a feeling, it is more of a state of existing. Every time I go to the doctor or emergency room, they ask me to rate my pain on a scale of one to 10 and describe it. It is almost impossible to remember the last time I had a pain-free day, I have days that are manageable but not close to pain-free. This makes it impossible to rate my pain, if I have no “one” on my scale. I have days with less pain to compare it to but that is the extent of my ranking ability. Chronic pain patients cannot be asked to identify their pain the same way as people without. It is totally different. It is comparing a child who has not had a true meal in months and is legitimately starving to death to someone who had to fast for 12 hours. It is simply not the same. When they ask me to describe it, I have to hold back laughter. It feels like my life, it feels like my existence. It feels like staying at home on a Friday night when all of my friends go out and have fun. It feels like blinking back tears when the elevator is broken and I have to climb six floors to go to my apartment, knowing I will move as slowly as possible and still hurt after. It feels like having scars from a heating pad burn my skin from using it for hours on end. It feels like an overbearing parents or controlling partner that I constantly have to check in with and see if I am allowed to do something. It feels like the worst day of the flu but you are expected to continuing living your life. Nobody cares that you have the flu and you need to stop complaining because “everyone has aches and pains.” My life exists in a constant state of pain. My body is constantly hurting. My mind is constantly hurting from being held back from my dreams because of my body’s limitations. When I am asked to describe it, I cannot express it in words like “throbbing, aching, stabbing, or burning” because that isn’t what it is. Those terms express a surface level pain. It is the way that you describe a burn from a stove or a sprained ankle. This pain is constant. It feels like the worst leg cramp of your life but lasts for hours on end. It feels like my knees are going to give out on me at any second because I am pushing myself to be on the same level as my peers. It feels like there is something inside of me trying to claw its way out of my abdomen. It feels like I ran into a brick wall repeatedly. These are feelings most people cannot fathom. Since most people cannot fathom the idea of being in pain all of the time, not showing it, and continuing to go about your daily life they just chose to ignore it. Whether that is to protect themselves against the idea that a loved one could hurt that much and they can’t help or it is out of disbelief because they cannot see the condition causing the pain, it is a reality for millions of people. Understand why it is difficult to explain to people without chronic pain. Believe people can still be hurting even if you don’t see them struggling. Be there for them when nobody else is. Try to be understanding when they may be short tempered with you. Understand that chronic pain is terrifying and isolating because there is no promise that we will ever feel better. Give us hope that even if there is no promise of a pain free day, there is the promise of people that love and care.