I gave up any expectation of ever having another day without pain a few years ago.
This doesn’t mean I gave up.
It was actually a liberating experience. It allowed me to stop wishing for things I can’t have, and start finding ways to make the best of what I still DO have.
Once I stopped waiting for the pain to go away, I started living again. Really living. Not the way I lived before Rheumatoid Arthritis, of course. I have physical limitations now. There are many things I will never be able to do again. But I appreciate every moment that I am upright and moving, and able to work and play.
I am mindful, and I am grateful. And I am happy.
It’s not possible to be happy while you are focusing on all the things you can no longer do. On all the things you have lost. On the people you no longer see. On all the cruel things people think its OK to say to you.
Letting all the negative thoughts go is hard work. It’s a process, and it takes time to get through. There are no time limits. Everyone is different, and everyone gets there in their own way, and in their own time.
The day that shift happened for me was the day I was able enjoy life again.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my pity-party days. They are totally allowed. In fact they are essential. RA sux bigtime. Being in contstant pain sux bigtime. Ignorant, arrogant, insensitive people who say the most appalling things to me suck bigtime!
Sometimes I watch people moving around, knowing it doesn’t hurt them to do so, and I feel the most intense jealousy I have ever known.
I listen to them complain about their minor niggles, or a bad hair cut and I struggle to be supportive and NOT tell them to suck it up and be grateful that their whole body is not on fire.
Some days I just cry.
I have to get these emotions out, but believe me, it’s not easy to do. I don’t like to admit I can’t do something. I don’t like to admit I can’t cope. I don’t like to admit defeat.
I have a very good psychologist whom I see about once a month. To vent. To explain (endlessly) what it is like to be locked in a body that hurts every day, and how strong I need to be to live my life in a meaningful way.
How hard it is to take each breath and accept that it’s just going to have to hurt.
Because that is the only option.
The alternative is to spend my life on the couch, or in bed, waiting for the day the pain goes away. But what if that day never comes? What if the pain NEVER goes away? If I am depending on being pain-free, haven’t I then wasted my life?
When RA first hit and knocked me down hard. I waited for a few months. I believed in the promise of remission. I had to believe in that promise, I had to have that hope, in the beginning.
Now, seven years on, I have to believe in my ability to enjoy my life with pain.
Pain and happiness are NOT mutually exclusive.
My pain is in my body…in my joints, in my muscles, my tendons, my skin, my eyes…so many places.
My happiness is in my heart, my soul….myself.
Note: I take all my medications religiously. I am still searching for a combination of medications that will get me closer to pain free…and I still believe I could be pain free one day. BUT I don’t let the pain stop me from living a meaningful life. Each new medication gives me hope. Each new treatment option is a chance to get my old life back. And if I get that, I will feel like the luckiest woman alive. But if I don’t, my life will still be worthwhile and wonderful.