Disclaimer: I had to write many versions of this post before I was satisfied with it. Talking about pain makes me feel as if I am indulging in self-pitying behavior or asking for sympathy. Yet, pain is a very real part of what I go through on a daily basis. My body just wasn't built to code, so to speak, and so I have to live my life a little differently. In an effort to be honest, I have to say that I know no different (my body has always been a little less), and so it is simply the way that I live.
I got to talking with a couple of girlfriends this past weekend about how life can throw you some curve-balls every once in a while. All of us had been through our fair share of ups, and many downs. Many of us had lost loved ones too soon, a couple of us struggled with disability, and all of us had felt some sense of hopelessness in the past year or two. When something one of them said stuck with me. "I haven't been through anywhere near as much as you, though."
To set the scene a bit, I have to say that, for the first time in my life, my invisible illness has days where it becomes visible. I have had to use a cane and back-braces for the past few months. The looks I have begun to receive is something I am not used to. Curiosity and mostly pity. When I meet new people, I am constantly asked what happened to me. Aren't I simply too young to need a cane? No. As it turns out, I am not too young. So, I have begun to learn how to explain EDS to others in a manner that is much more succinct and to the point. (I mean, who really wants me to drone on and on? That's what a blog is for!)
So, now visibly disabled, I had somehow endured so much more than anyone who had suffered on an emotional level. This isn't the first time I have had someone react this way, either. I was struck by this invisible "pain scale" that I had suddenly been placed upon.
"What's your pain level on a scale from one to ten?" I have lost how many times I have been asked that question over the years. Though, it always seemed a little strange to me. Who's to say that tomorrow I won't experience a new pain that puts what I once thought was the "worst pain I have ever felt" to shame?
I have to say that I don't buy it. I am of the mind that pain is pain, whether it be emotional or physical. No one person has experienced the exact same life. It is simply not possible. But all of our experiences matter. Equally.
If something hurts you, then it hurts you. I believe that all of our pain shapes us into who we are. It is certainly not an enjoyable aspect of life, but it is something that we can use to become better versions of ourselves. We all hurt, and we all have to deal with pain.
My pain is no more and no less. I am simply me.