Chronic Pain Warriors: Responding to the Pile-Up of Challenges

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 5th, 2009 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

The more chronic pain symptoms we have, the harder it is to manage and overcome them. For example, if we have back pain only, we easily can do some acupressure points on our low back. But what if we not only have back pain but also wrist pain and shoulder pain, making it impossible for us to angle our hands in the position needed for those acupressure points?

Similarly, the less resources we have – in terms of close friends, money, location convenience, and so on – the harder it is for us to overcome our chronic pain challenges. For example, it is incredibly expensive to be on a decent health insurance plan and, on top of that, to cover the out-of-pocket expenses for complementary and alternative medicine. For many people, this combination of expenses alone is the sum total of one’s salary, if not beyond it.

Then there are all the million other factors I’m not getting into here: Eating disorders, mental illness, trauma from childhood abuse, isolation, neighborhood violence…The more elements we are working to solve or heal simultaneously, and the less resources we have at our disposal to accomplish our goals, the harder it is for us to overcome our difficulties.

What’s more, everything is so tangled up with everything else. It seems as if we have to resolve everything all at once in order for any of it to work. One piece is contingent on another. That reality in itself can be so overwhelming that we just want to crawl into a hole.

But wait, there’s more: Instead of finding a throng of people pouring out love and asking how they can support us, we are often met with an onslaught of invalidation and accusation. New Age bullies, for example, tell us that we invited these experiences because of our karma, or that we attracted certain situations because we’re just screw-ups.

Here’s an idea for those not in pain: Lend a hand to someone who is. Lend an ear. Or a car. Bring food and videos to someone having a setback. Don’t wait for her to ask for help. Offer it. Take her to the doctor’s office for moral support. Ask what she needs and how you can best support her. Commit to whatever kind of support you can offer while still taking care of yourself.

Do not, under any circumstances, take the opportunity of someone else’s suffering to bask in self-righteous, pseudo-spiritual smugness, pleased by how superior you are because nothing bad has ever happened to you.

And for those of us in pain, here are five tips from my own battle through the seemingly never-ending tunnel of darkness:

  1. It may or may not turn out OK. Regardless, here we are with the hand we’re dealt, so let’s do the best damn job we can and juice this muthafucka for all the spirituality and learning and growing and strengthening and deepening we can get out of it.
  2. Write down a list of the resources we do have, and use them. These resources include a public library (where we can get books on healing), the internet (where we can connect with other chronic pain warriors in the safety of our own homes), and a notebook and pen (where we can validate our own damn experiences). They also include our humor, our survival instinct, and our intelligence.
  3. Write a list of all the things going well in our lives. Feel and embody the gratitude. Use that platform as our springboard for even more success and wellness and ease.
  4. Fully embody and engage in this life we do have. It may not be what we signed up for, but let’s see what we can do with it. Become an artist with our lives. Bring our full heart and spirit to the process, and see what new creations we can make, what new directions we can take.
  5. Love ourselves. Turn up the inner dial so that our own intuitive knowing and compassion and vision and voice drowns out the naysayers and haters and dum-dums. Find like-minded individuals and bond together like the latest ad for KrazyGlue.

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