Harbouring anger and being inconsiderate: my chronic pain realisation
I had a realisation this morning about my body - that I’ve been subconsciously harbouring anger towards it since my teen years, because of the pain it has ‘inflicted’ on me, and said anger has manifested itself in behaviours uncaring and inconsiderate towards self.
Turns out, I’ve long believed that my body has let me down and, because of that, decided it deserved nothing better than to be let down in return. Right from the age of 17, when I first started exhibiting signs of what originally was thought to be grumbling appendicitis, later ovarian cysts, I’ve felt as though my body has betrayed me. At that age, my reaction was to take 'control' - I became restrictive with my eating, over-exercised, and for a short period of time became very slender, a situation I was able to - very luckily, I hasten to add - manoeuvre myself out of, and only afterwards realised just how much I hadn’t been looking after myself (prompted by the words of a family member’s friend who told me just how ‘skinny’ and unwell-looking I had been last time she had seen me).
As the years then passed, and my hypermobility became more pronounced, encompassing a body part at a time with the inevitable pairing of clunking and pain, my behaviour became that of a rebellious youth. I ate what I wanted and barely exercised, reacting to the lack of sleep and daily pain-battles with temper tantrums and deliberate refusal to do anything about it - adjust diet, posture, exercise regime. I treated my body as though separate from my being, ignoring the pain I’d feel when chowing down on cheese on toast and doing so anyway, refusing to believe it was a ‘we’re in this together’ situation, instead seeing it as a ‘well if you’re going to treat me like that, then I’m going to treat you the same...and worse...in return’ one.
Attending university as a 26 year old, I battled the worst of my chronic pain in my second winter as a student, despite (at the same time) actively seeking out channels that could be of aid: I found out I had a vitamin D deficiency that was no doubt adding to my pain, but I so infrequently took the tablets prescribed that I’m pretty sure I’ve still got it to this day; I refused to put the heating on because of the costs involved, letting the cold that did little to ease my painful living rattle through my bones; and I left it until last minute to complete essays, even though I knew the stress of university was causing me so much physical anguish that mentally I was close to having a breakdown. I seemed set on making things worse for my body, just because I thought it was punishing me...ignoring the fact that ‘the body’ and ‘the being’ were one and the same and that, in punishing in return, funnily enough, I wasn’t making anything any easier for myself.
In pushing back against the pain, and continuing to behave exactly as I wanted to (that is, not exercising, eating as I like, living outside of my chronic pain ‘means’), I became my own worst enemy (as we humans are more than prone to being), and made things cyclical - my body ‘betrayed’ me with pain, therefore I ‘betrayed’ my body by eating copious amounts of sugar, and then, in turn, my body ‘betrayed’ me with pain...and so on, and so decades-long forth. The anger has become so detrimental that my health has been impacted on for far longer than it ever should have been, and I’m now in a position where I struggle on a daily basis with pain, tiredness, and low mood. And...it is not going to get any better, with the absence of looking after myself. The absence of kindness. I might have been uncomfortable with my body for years (ashamed to wear anything above my knee, to let go of my tights even on a sweltering day, because of the slight muscle wastage on my left thigh; ashamed to admit that my decision to wear cheap shoes has resulted in poor foot alignment and bunions), but there is no doubt that discomfort stemmed from my complete and utter disregard of what my body was asking of me...to be kind, to look after myself, and to make adjustments. Working out, eating better, even standing and sitting right, is hard work. It is no doubt easier to bury one’s head, but I am testimony to the fact that doing that doesn’t do anyone any good...in fact, it does quite the opposite.
32 may be a little long of tooth to have had said realisation, but better late than never.
Always better late than never.