I have felt this way many times. It’s hard not to. So much of my time is spent trying to be different than I am right now. Trying not to be in pain. Trying to make myself better again. Trying to be there for others in the ways they want me to be. Hiding my pain so people don’t feel bad for me and so that I don’t scare them with the hugeness of it.
It's No Crime
And when we can’t find the reset button, we often blame ourselves for not trying hard enough. For having gotten into this pain in the first place. For having sidestepped from our normal lives onto this weird, unrelenting, difficult path of pain.
But I just want to say this today. For myself and for you. Being in pain is not a failure of any kind. It is not fun, it is not what we want and we may not understand how we got here, but it is not a failure.
There is no way to fail at life. I am alive, and you are alive, and we have a very interesting path before us that requires everything we’ve got to keep going. But that is not failure.
There Is No Perfect Life Out There
I am not in perfect health. Maybe you aren’t either, but that does not erase the health we do have. That does not erase the life we are living and make it meaningless. We are given the task of finding new meaning–different kinds of meaning–in a life that is lived with pain as our companion, but that does not make it an unworthy journey or make us unworthy journeyers.
It is difficult, yes. It demands more of us and we have to find our inner reserves to carry on. But it is also unexpectedly deep and rich. It comes with its own rewards of wisdom, compassion, and self reflection.
We Are Not Failures, We Are Examples of Awesomeness
If you are in pain today, you have not failed. Your life is still yours. Your path is still yours. It includes the experience of pain, but it also includes all of you and all of your amazing, courageous spirit and your phenomenal will and dedication to life to wake up this morning and carry on.
We, in pain, are humans living our lives the best ways we can considering our tremendous challenges. And that makes us not failures, but quite remarkable people, I think.
Sarah Anne Shockley has lived with nerve pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since 2007. She co-produced and directed Dancing From the Inside Out, a multi-award winning documentary on AXIS Dance Company (integrating wheelchair and able-bodied dance). She has been a columnist for Pain News Network and is a regular contributor to The Mighty. Her book, The Pain Companion will be released from New World Library, June, 2018. She is also author of The Light at The Center of Pain, Living Better While Living With Pain, and 30 Days of Living Better While Living With Pain.