Dear Mama Wrestling with Chronic Pain or Chronic Illness,
I see you.
I see you struggling to open your eyes, much less get out of bed in the morning. I see you opening the medicine cabinet in search of relief, unsure if any pill will actually touch the pain, and wondering if the pain is really bad enough to justify taking a pill, or if you’re “NSAIDing” your way into a stomach ulcer.
I see you scouring the internet, wondering if another specialist will be able to help you. I see you slamming the phone down after you fight with your insurance company. I see your tears as your doctor calls you after yet another “normal” test result and states, matter of factly, “I’m sorry, I really don’t know what else we can do for you. But we can increase your anti-depressant if you’d like.” I feel your anger, your confusion, and your hopelessness.
I want you to know, *I know your pain is REAL.*
I know it’s easy to start thinking, “I’m crazy. No one believes me. My life is hopeless.” I know it’s easy to take out that anger on yourself, to give up, to isolate, to stop talking about it for fear of sounding like a broken record. But I want you to know I believe you. Your physical pain is very, VERY real, and it’s very, VERY frustrating.
And yet, I know what hurts more than the pain itself is how you see it impacting your family and friends. I hear your kids calling for mommy to come play with them, and I see you struggle to smile through the pain as they invite you to build a train track or perform a puppet show. I feel your frustration and sorrow as you finally have to set the toys aside and lay down for awhile.
“Mommy wants to play, but right now mommy hurts. I’ll come back and play more later.”
I know your fuse is short, and it’s so frustrating because as much as you try to be patient, responding well to those you love while in pain is next to impossible. I know you worry you’re destroying your relationships. I know you feel like you’re watching time slip away from you as you wait for answers and relief. I know you desperately LONG for your children to know you as YOU: the wonderful, beautiful you who dreamed something very different for her motherhood.
Mama, I want you to know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I long for you to give yourself grace. I long for you to understand that although you may not be able to give your children “the best you,” you are giving them an amazing you. You are their mama. Kids are so intuitive… they understand that mama hurts. I long for you to trust your children; to know that sometimes cuddles on the couch are better than playing ball in the backyard. To know that your chronic pain may be a gift to them as you are forced to slow down and lower your expectations. And to know that in those moments when your fuse is short, kids are so forgiving. Say you’re sorry. And receive their forgiveness.
But mama, I also don’t want you to give up. Keep advocating for yourself. Keep asking your friends for help. Keep moving forward in the pain to find relief and answers. And keep believing that they are there. I’m believing for you. And I’m believing for me.
May our pain become our strength: to look on one another with compassion, and to encourage one another to keep pressing on.
You are not alone.