I have learned to have people in my life as much as I possibly can. I love being with friends. It does take a certain amount of selection to have the right people around you when you are feeling vulnerable. Being challenged or dismissed in any way about the pain you are feeling just adds stress, and we all know that stress creates more pain.
I have never expected anyone to really understand what type of pain I have; or what the restrictions of it are, but I do appreciate friends who even though they haven't been through it, can empathize and do their best to understand.
Trying to "make" someone understand your restrictions does not work. It lays you out in a private way and you are left with hope they will somehow "get" it, but it is highly unlikely. For the most part I don't talk about the particulars of my pain and how it dictates my life and that of my family. We manoeuvre our way through it making it work for us as a couple, and a family. It can sometimes seem seamless. We have managed to have all kinds of fun adventures by planning well ahead. It takes me being willing to not be able to do everything offered, and my family to agree they will not do everything offered as well. Compromise is the key to our existence. For instance, after Barry and I spent the morning at the Acropolis in Athens,Greece, I happily went back to the hotel to rest, while he spent the afternoon at the Acropolis museum. I know my limitations and appreciate his interest in museums so we were both happy. Feeling somewhat refreshed after a rest, he then showed me pictures and talked about it over dinner. I wished I was there but it was the next best thing.
Then there are times when someone challenges it, and it is very difficult.
The difficulty is that once again you are called out as being inflexible or needing things to be your way, when in fact it isn't that at all, far from it. Chronic pain sufferers just want to be able to do what we can, with as much normalcy as we can, without drawing attention to ourselves.
I spoke to a friend about this very thing this weekend. She was telling me she has finally learned that not everyone who asked how you are really wants to know. Not everyone you is in your life needs or wants to be caught up in the particulars of it. When however you have those special people who are genuine, you just appreciate them all the more.
Trying to make a normal looking life with one that is filled with loss, pain, and disability is a full time job. When you squeak out a plan that works for you while considering everyone else's feelings and needs it can be exhausting. It is all worth it if you can have what you want while having simply what you need as well.
Friends are worth it.