Maybe my weaknesses aren’t weaknesses. Maybe they are strengths.

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When I first started this blog back in 2012, I kept it largely a secret from the people in my life.

I wanted to help people struggling with the same things I’d been through, but I was afraid of the consequences of putting so much personal information online.

After all, wasn’t putting a long list of all my health issues, and detailing my sometimes-inability to get through work or school just giving potential future employers a reason to not hire me?

But as time has gone by, I’m starting to see things differently.

***

Now, this post isn’t meant to be just about me.  I’m not trying to come on here and just brag about how great I am.

But the more I write, and read other blogs, and interact with other people sharing their own stories, the more I realize just how much courage it can take to really face the cards you’re dealt, and try to make the best of a rough situation.

And that maybe, just maybe, other people will be able to see that about you.

***

I stumbled upon a J.K. Rowling quote recently that I really loved:

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

We are more than the sum of what our bodies can or can’t do.  I believe we all come into this life with certain lessons to learn and challenges to face, and physical limitations are one way in which we do that.

However, we can’t always count on others to immediately understand, or know what we are going through.

Which has led me to wonder…

What if we told our stories more, not less?

Will a future employer really look at my blog and count up the number of times I said I wasn’t feeling well?  Or will they look and see that I love to write, and that I’m doing my best to explain scientific concepts to a general audience, in the hopes that it might help others?

Will they really go through and count the number of years it’s taken me to get through all of my grad school prerequisites?  (Well, probably).  But, if they read through some of my posts, they should be able to see that, on the subject of chronic pain, I’ve basically already been to grad school.

A different kind of grad school, maybe, but I think you can certainly call what I’ve been through “Advanced Study.”

I speak from experience… I practice what I preach.

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I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with putting photos of myself up online… here’s a nice dark blurry one!

***

I’ve had a number of misunderstandings recently with people I care about.  The misunderstanding arose because I thought they already knew my perspective and what I was going through, and then it turned out they didn’t.

It’s led me to the realization: how can I expect people to know if I don’t tell them?

Maybe keeping quiet and assuming people will be able to read between the lines isn’t the right thing.  I generally try not to complain… but I’m starting to realize that maybe I’ve taken it too far, into not actually sharing my reality with others (funny, because I CERTAINLY share it online!).

My new goal, going forward, is going to be to speak my truth, honestly and compassionately.  And if chronic pain is part of my truth, then I will not filter it out. If people are truly going to understand me and where I’m coming from, maybe they actually need to know.

***

Part of what’s helped me get to this point is that I’ve recently discovered so many great writers/bloggers/poets, who have put into words not just what I’m feeling, but a place, emotionally, where I feel I ought to be going, if that makes sense.  I didn’t know it was my goal, or what lay ahead, but when I saw someone else put it into words, I recognized it.  My next lesson; my next place.

I had so many quotes I wanted to share with you in this post, however I’ve settled on this one from the amazing writer/poet Bianca Sparacino.  I discovered this quote from her a few months ago and it’s had a profound impact on me ever since:

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I want my communication to be clear, focused, and kind.  I want my words to reflect the truth.

Those of us struggling with chronic pain don’t want to complain.  We don’t want to overwhelm others with negativity.   However, we also need to remember that the people in our lives are not mind-readers.

If you really want to share your story with people, you can’t edit parts out.  It might be a temporary solution, but it only lasts for so long, before your longing to be understood will re-surface.

So instead of telling the truth by accident, or when we feel we have no other choice, why not just… say it?

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Being honest about how you are and what you’re facing is really hard, especially, like you say, if you don’t want to come across as complaining. But it’s just being honest, and that can be refreshing when so much that’s said and done is about putting on a front. I love this post! Thanks for sharing the quote and Sparacino’s Insta too as I like finding new writers and inspiration. You are awesome – go forward with honesty and ‘be true to yourself’ because as cliche as it sounds it takes strength and means a lot. xx

    1. Hi there– thanks so much for the kind comment! I’m really glad this post spoke to you. I think learning to be honest about who we are as people can definitely be a process. And I’m so glad you liked the quotes– I was so happy as well when I first stumbled across them!

  2. I have struggled with this a long time. I am not a very social person, and hate talking about myself to most people. I almost have to push myself to allow a select few to enter my “private circle”. I do think you are right however. If we don’t tell people how we feel, then how will they ever know? But in my experience of people, they don’t really care to know. Or even if they do know, they care at first, but it quickly gets old with a chronic illness. Then if people *know* and still act/talk carelessly, it is more hurtful than if they didn’t know in the first place. Also, the question about employers is a very good one. I hope most could see through the veneer of sickness and detect our resiliency. Yet I wonder how many can…

    1. Right. I think that, in my case, I’ve tried so hard not to “complain” that I’ve sold myself short, or assumed people wouldn’t be interested in hearing my story. Paradoxically, I think this approach can actually make things worse in the end, because when I do end up needing to speak up about something, it’s more likely to come across as complaining, since people don’t know the deeper reason behind it.

      And yeah, about employers– I wish I had a straightforward answer here. It might be a little bit easier for me, since I’m intending to go into a field where, I expect, the ability to relate to patients and empathize will be a skill. My *hope* is that, if it’s the right place and the right employer for you, they’ll get it. (I know that in the past, I’ve settled when I probably didn’t need to, because I wasn’t aware there were better options out there).

    2. “Paradoxically, I think this approach can actually make things worse in the end, because when I do end up needing to speak up about something, it’s more likely to come across as complaining, since people don’t know the deeper reason behind it. ” << Totally agree! Happens to me all the time. I try to keep quiet and not complain too. You are right what you said above, learning to be honest to yourself and about yourself to others is a process. It takes some ability to trust in people and open up to them, all of which will take some practice on my part I guess. :)

      I wish you all the best with your career! I really hope you are able to find an employer who values your ability to empathize and connect with your future patients.

  3. Wow! I absolutely love this post. I just found your blog and I really like your writing style. This is so inspiring and relatable for me because I struggle to share my blog with others since I don’t want them to see all of my deepest thoughts. I also love that quote from J. K. Rowling, it’s one of my favorites and a great choice. Can’t wait to read more of your blog!

  4. YAAAAAAAAS couldn’t agree or relate more! Apart from the fact that I’ve been so vocal with everyone lately I am concerned I have alienated some people in my life. But maybe that is for the best <3

    1. Hi Rosalind– so glad the post spoke to you! For me, learning to be honest with the people in my life is definitely a process. But I think that anyone who’s truly meant to stay in my life will be able to handle my reality, so yes– maybe it is for the best if you finally spoke up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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