It comes naturally to us to take care of ourselves, and not be a burden to those around us. We don’t rely on others in order to be okay with ourselves. All that is well and good until–
–we get injured or fall ill or have an operation, and find ourselves in ongoing pain, functioning at a much lower capacity than we are used to.
Being Weak is Not Who We Are
When we have to ask for support, whether financial or emotional, or we can’t do all the things we used to be able to do easily, we feel as if we our failing–failing others, and failing ourselves.
We believe in independence and self reliance. We subscribe to the DIY attitude toward everything, including healing. We want to make everything work out right now, today. So we may perceive our pain and vulnerability as a weakness–and that feels both terrifying and intolerable.
It’s very hard, it’s incredibly frustrating, and it can be very scary when you’ve been used to being the one upon whom others rely for support, for constancy, for dependability and now you can't fully rely on yourself or your body.
I'll Handle This On My Own, Thanks
We pull away and withdraw from others to lick our wounds alone–to heal by ourselves. We try to cover up how much pain we are in, we don’t ask for much help, and we keep going as if we are not actually in terrific pain.
But pulling away and going solo isn’t always helpful in this case.
Because no one can really understand what we’re going through if we don’t share with them.
Because if we don’t ask, how will people know we need help?
Because if we don’t admit we need that help–even to ourselves–we will over do it, strain ourselves, and possibly create more pain.
Because not letting others be there for us sends a message that we don’t trust them, and it cuts us off from loving support – both emotional and physical.
So, as unnatural as it may feel for some of us, we might want to do something a little radical, a little uncomfortable. We might want to consider adopting more of a pack mentality, if only for the time we’re in pain.
Just This Once...
We may find we have something beautiful and resourceful and insightful to offer when we open up and allow ourselves to express the pain we’re in and how it has affected us.
We learn that asking for help is not always a burden, and that others sometimes find meaning in being there for us.
We find increased health benefits from the greater emotional well being we can gain from finding a pack that includes us, instead of excluding ourselves from the company and support of others.
If we can release our lone wolf mentality just a little–release the belief that we have to go through it alone–do it alone–find our way alone–we can discover that that there is community out there, there are helping hands, there are common experiences.
We may discover that accepting some help now and then doesn’t mean we’re weak, it means we’re connected–and that is always a strength.
And when we're out of pain, we can always go back to being the lone wolf again, of course–if we still want to.
Sarah Anne Shockley has lived with nerve pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since 2007. She is the author of The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom For Living With and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain and Living Better While Living With Pain.