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Entering the Back Door of Chronic Pain

Friends have shared their frustration at not knowing how to address someone they love about their pain. When  experiencing pain we often employ coping devices. And it takes a lot of effort to keep our focus away from  pain. When others ask lovingly “how are you feeling?”  it can cause internal conflict. In order to answer the question it means we have to “feel” our pain that we are trying so hard “not to feel”. They have no idea how complex a process it is to answer this small question.

I  suggest not to ask their loved one how they are feeling but to tell them what you observe. Observations like “I can see that you are limping”  is honest and objective. A person may have an easier time responding to this type of question because it allows them to choose to talk about their pain or not and does not raise brick wall defenses like the ones we put between ourselves and our pain.  I  think of this approach as going in the back door rather than the front door.

Have you had difficulty with conversations about your pain or find yourself being put off when others ask about it?

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About Mary Byrne Eigel

Before writing children’s books, Mary spent many years teaching in classrooms and creating art in her studio. She was born with bi-lateral hip dysplasia, a painful condition that causes normal activities, like walking, to be challenging. As a child, when Mary had to trek long distances, she often wished she had a wheelchair. For her, a wheelchair offered pain-free opportunities, not limitations. Mary grew up in Chicago, which is the lakefront inspiration for the town of Sail. She lives in Missouri with her husband and two dogs, Beaux and Trey.

2 responses »

  1. I know friends and family mean well when they ask how I am…but it just puts me in this bizarre situation. They KNOW I am miserable nearly every minute of everyday. They KNOW I put on a good front and push myself everyday. I just usually say, ok, or hangin in there or the usual. Does no good for me to go into details. They can’t help me. It’s easier for them to think I”m doin fine. So that’s how I leave it.
    Thanks for this blog…very good!
    Tammy
    http://spicyt.wordpress.com

  2. Mary Byrne Eigel

    Spicyt,
    Thanks for visiting. you point out how difficult it is. And I agree that there is no point in really telling others how much you might be hurting. Wish there was an easy way.
    Mary

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