I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what life with chronic pain means. I feel like so much of who I am is tied up with the pain and I hate that, so I'm trying to think about who I am at this point in my life in my journey with chronic pain. It just gets frustrating because most of the people in my life know about my pain, and the frequent questions about how I feel and all of the "what did you do today/this weekend/etc" make me feel like people don't really see me anymore because the pain has become such a part of who I am. So, this is what I've come up with...
I'm not who I was before all this started- I've gained a greater appreciation for the simple pleasures in life, and I've found strength that I didn't know I had. I've become much more sensitive to the needs of others, and I am so much more aware of how tiny gestures of kindness can truly mean the world to other people. I'm a work in progress when it comes to being able to ask for and accept help, but I'm much more open to it than I was before. I've learned that saying "I can't" is not failing. I've hung up my superwoman cape, and have learned to live in the moment and take things one day at a time.
There are of course the negatives. I am more irritable than I used to be, and I tend to take out my frustrations on the people I love. In many ways I feel like I've lost my sparkle because of the daily struggles of dealing with pain. I am no stranger to exhaustion and depression. I no longer feel carefree and spontaneous.
But at the end of the day, I know that I am so much more than my chronic pain and I refuse to let that define me day in and day out. It has definitely changed who I am, and I can embrace both the positive and negative changes that are coming out of this journey.