If you are just joining, please go back and read 1. This will make more sense.
Regardless of my many surgeries and complications life continued whether I did or not, as many of you know. My partner at the time didn’t understand. We were fighting and I didn’t understand why. I tried to communicate where my head was. I said that I would not be able to handle problems the way I used to and asked that they be mindful of that. Unfortunately that was taken as “if you have a problem I don’t want to hear about it.” If you think you hear something like this it is not likely the true message. Ask for clarification, again gently. Your loved one is already really fragile and feeling judgment and criticism at every turn. It may not be there, but it feels that way. So be patient and be kind, to both of you.
So, regardless of my efforts the gaps just grew. During this time my Ex and I were experiencing a lot of tension and heart ache. I never thought we’d break up but the events that followed a huge fight led to the most horrific and explosive breakup in my life. It not only shattered that relationship, but also tore apart our group of friends into unnecessary factions.
My ex’s best friend Michelle (whom I had only known for around 2 years and who had only known me in increasing pain) and another friend of hers, Jo (who I was far from alone in not being able to stand) decided to both privately and publicly decry my “behavior” and my treatment of my Ex.
First I got an email from Jo which included bits like:
“your behavior has been nothing better than reprehensible. Don’t bother sending me a long tirade about how much pain you are in. I’ve dealt with many people who were dying in worse pain that you are in, and not a single one of them was as nasty to me even once as you have been to your ex on a fairly continual basis.”
“You aren’t somebody I would ever consider a friend. Your behavior is reprehensible at best, and completely evil at it’s worst. I am done with you.”
Many people in chronic pain already feel that people are coming down on them for the situation and how they are handling it. We are in pain, we are confused, we are lost, and we are grieving. Nothing makes much sense. For as much as our loved ones miss the person we once were, WE experience that feeling a thousand fold.
Now, his words weren’t particularly hurtful. It’s hard to be offended by someone you don’t respect. In fact, that little “I’m done with you.” statement made me do a little happy dance. What WAS painful was that my ex allowed him to interject himself into a fight between the two of us. Who does that? What are we 14 and on the play ground taking sides? I was pretty shocked. What I didn’t know was there was more to come and I still hadn’t heard directly from my ex.
The next day I get a text from a friend telling me to check Livejournal. I did and found, open to the public, a post from Ex’s best friend Michelle. Here’s some excerpts from the very long, bullying, patronizing diatribe she posted:
LJ Post from Michelle M
“You need to not make decisions until you are off the pain meds. You are sick, unwell. Seriously. I don’t know where the girl I met went. She could listen to reason. She could own her choices. You don’t resemble her. We lost you to the pain and you are making no attempt to get us back.”
“You are completely wrong. Your decisions are wrong, your choices are wrong, you are 100% responsible for the destruction you are wreaking on your life and others lives.”
“Don’t blame the pain, blame the fact you make shitty choices. Own your own actions.”
A day or so later I finally received contact from my ex and the relationship ended. I never responded to any of them. I took the high road, removed them from all of my contacts, blocked them, stayed offline, and stayed away. There was nothing left to say. I wanted nothing to do with any of it. They say chronic pain shows you who your real friends are and this was a real harsh lesson in that.
In both of these letters we see a common theme. They both believed I was using pain as an excuse. That chronic pain couldn’t possibly be causing my weird behavior. This is the worst fear of those in chronic pain. It isn’t an excuse, we are trying our absolute hardest to be “normal” to carry on as if nothing has changed. When in reality it has all changed. Chronic pain tears you and your life apart and no one walks into that situation knowing how to deal with that. You are in terrible pain both mentally and physically and no one who hasn’t lived it understands.
You feel terribly isolated. Alone, lost, and at your worst. What do you do? My advice: find a support group. For as much as your loved ones WANT to understand and help, if they haven’t experienced it, they simply can’t. The people who are living it are the ones who can empathize, who will make it less lonely, and often they are the ones who will give you insight. There are support groups online just type chronic pain into the groups tab on facebook or into google. There is one that holds meetings over the phone called Chronic Pain Anonymous (CPA) call (213) 342-3090 a recording will ask prompt you……pin number is 1952435, then the # sign, the schedule, all pacific time: sat. 11 am, sun 11 am, mon 4 pm, tues noon, wed. 5:30 pm, thurs 5:30, friday no meeting. Also find yourself a counselor, preferably one that specializes in chronic pain. There are people out there that understand you and can help. You are not alone.
Of course, if I could go back I would change things. I would sit down with my ex and try to talk it out. Try to understand what was going on to create such a gap between us. I didn’t because I was afraid. Afraid of what my ex would say to me. That I would be hurt and rejected, told about all my inadequacies, told about how much I’d changed and that I was no longer loved. I knew I couldn’t handle it, that it could be that final straw. I found out later that my ex was convinced that I was no longer in love. Life is like that. You can’t change the past, you can only do your best at the time and live with the consequences.
I walked away from everyone involved (which was a LOT of people) and sometimes that may be your only option. It isn’t a failure on anyone’s part. Just sometimes it takes time and especially space to find your way through. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. You might be surprised how willingly people will comply. Not every story has to go like this. The people around you do love you and want to help. They just don’t have any idea how to do so. A little honest communication, no matter how scary, will go a long way.