With my clients, I see that being in chronic pain shifts the nature of their relationship to friends, family and significant others. Needing more assistance in all aspects of living can change the way people think of themselves. They may not want to engage with others — to avoid asking for help or to avoid having to choose between not talking about pain, and feeling as if they are being dishonest about where they are at, or talking about it and risking a poor response.
On my part, I focus on creating a safe, comfortable place, where those with chronic pain can share about their pain without being judged.
I think support groups make a huge difference in helping people feel they belong, even when going through difficult times. I think that any trauma — whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual — at some level creates a difference of experience that forms a wedge between us and our regular social groups. People respond to us differently; we don’t get the understanding or mirroring that we want and need; and we are forced to look elsewhere.
Until we find a new “tribe” of people who “get it,” we feel socially ostracized on some level. The feeling of non-belonging is heart-breaking, wrenching, and incredibly painful. Finding a place of belonging is key to healing.
Anasuya Basil, NC, Dipl. ABT, CST, is the director of My Body Wisdom, through which she offers in-person or virtual holistic health counseling, cranio-sacral therapy, nutritional guidance, and other forms of mind-body medicine.