By Wendy Burnett
I read this awesome post about The Loneliness of Pain and it really made me think about how isolated I feel sometimes. Even though I have people in my life that I CAN talk to about how bad I feel, I frequently choose not to for various reasons.
Have you done that? I’m betting that most of us have, either because we’re afraid that eventually these folks are going to get tired of “listening to us bitch,” or because we don’t want them to feel bad. There are more reasons, but most of them seem to boil down to one or the other of these two.
My husband is very understanding, and if I tell him I’m exhausted, he’ll make me lay down. If I tell him I’m in pain, he’ll listen and be supportive. The problem is, he’s been out of work for several months, and is feeling useless and guilty because he’s not “contributing.” If I tell him I’m in pain, or I’m worn out, his guilt kicks in and he starts apologizing for my pain and exhaustion, and his depression gets worse.
How can I tell the man that I love, who is already miserable because no-one will hire him; that my pain is worse when he’ll know it’s because of the stress of trying to survive on one part-time income? How can I tell him I’m exhausted when he’s going to immediately know that’s caused by working my part-time job, then coming home and writing for hours for a few extra $$, and spending even more hours looking for more places to sell articles?
He knows, I know he does. He sees me dragging out hotpacks for my neck and back; he sees me fall asleep practically before my head hits the pillow and watches me drag around like I’m 30 years older than I am. He knows, and he asks, “are you okay?” He will also (usually) accept it if I say, “oh, I’m just tired because it was extra busy at work today.” It’s easier for both of us that way.
It’s easier, but it’s not good for either of us. It builds a wall between us, and then we’re both isolated from our best source of support. We live in one room, and we’re always together, but if I shut him out we’re more alone than we would be if we were apart.
If I choose not to tell him, not only does it deprive me of the support I need, it deprives him of the opportunity to feel useful, the opportunity to feel like he’s helping me and contributing to the relationship in some way.
My illness builds its own walls, the pain pulls me inside myself and isolates me enough by being something that I can’t easily share with those who don’t understand, who aren’t willing to hear and believe me. If I choose to shut out the few who can and will listen, even if I do it to “protect” them, I take away their choices and damage the relationship. That’s not fair to either of us.
|If you’ve found the content on this website helpful, and you can afford to, please consider making a contribution to help keep the content coming and the site online.|