Sunday, August 11, 2013

How Important is it to Find Meaning in Your Illness?

When I first came down with a chronic pain condition over 10 years ago, I never said, "Why me?"  I said, "What is my body expressing through pain that I have not been able to express with words?"  I truly believed that my cure was to be found in finding the answers to that question.

I believed that if I could remember some long buried trauma or some dark family secrets, the pain would turn to dust and blow away.

I became an anthropologist whose subject was limited to a tribe of one -- me.  I gathered up dream fragments,  bits of memory, family lore and tried to weave them into a story that explained the pain away.

I learned a great deal about my family and who I was supposed to be.  And about the gap between who I was supposed to be and who I  wanted to be.  I was supposed to be perfect, a perfect platform that would support the myth of us being the perfect family.  There was no alcohol or drug addiction, no abuse, no divorce.  Just such deep disappointment of my parents in each other that they needed me to be strong and without needs so they would not have to feel their own woundedness.

I played my part well.  Until the pain began.  Over several years, I figured out so much, but the pain stayed.  It took a lot more time to figure out the right combination of medication and meditation to quiet the pain.

By the time the pain became a whisper, I was ready to be the me I really was - flawed, stubborn, argumentative, closed, open, and real.

My primary care doctor said that finding meaning at least gave me something to do while my body healed.

Where did your illness lead you?  Did you find deeper meaning in your situation?  Did that matter to you?  I'd really like to know.


Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

My long-term chronic pain condition has required me to change nearly everything about who I am and why I live the way I do. I have become less physical and much more cerebral; I tend with care to small living organisms and wounded souls. My heart reaches out to others whose suffering may or may not be mentioned; I can send energy into specific situations or generalized love into the world with much more accuracy and much less harm to myself in the process. I have learned to let go of outcomes and appreciate the approaches taken by individuals. The struggles we each have become more and more apparent to me as I get worse physically.

Hope this helps some. Please contact me for further discussion if you want to. I have a small blog at which doesn't spend much time on my illness but lots on positivity, creativity and Littles' pictures; if you have a minute....

linda said...

nice posting...thanks for sharing this