by Jean Price
Editor’s Note—The National Pain Report asked its readers what they are thankful for. A long-time reader and frequent commentator, Jean Price shared her thoughts in the commentary section which we felt deserved a wider audience.
It’s hard to narrow down all that I’m thankful for…but you all most likely already know I’m not good at “short and sweet”… or even “short and to the point”!! I have so much, so many blessings both large and small that flood my mind when I think of this question! And truth is, I think of it quite often! Because thankfulness always pulls me through the pain and the overwhelming effort of living with pain…and lands me “standing tall”, right square in the middle of enjoying life and all that life holds—besides pain—AND despite pain!!
I’m most thankful for the all the things I learned about CHANGE and LOSS, both pre-pain and post-pain…or rather with pain and in pain…that help me accomplish LIVING JOYFULLY, and thankful too for the people who taught and mentored me and stood by me as I learned. And in this process, I found a loving God….who stayed at the edge of the black hole of pain and loss with me…long enough for me to decide that’s not where I wanted to live! And He has helped my faith grow by leaps and bounds! I’ve had desert times, do-over times, “you’ve got to be kidding” times, even times of revisiting that black hole when I realized in some new way how alone pain makes me…even though I am surrounded by a loving family. Yet I’m thankful those times are a rarity and only last a brief while. You see, one hint of thankfulness backs me away from the edge!
So, I’m thankful for thankfulness, I guess you could say! This last couple of years, I’ve also grudgingly accepted that “gifts” do grow out of this pain of mine! I’m thankful I can see those as gifts now…like all the special people I have met who also live with pain, the focus I have now of being more compassionate to others, and even my peace of mind within the chaos of pain that enables me to be more peaceful about the little and big upsets of “regular” life! No, I can’t say I’m thankful for pain as a teacher…I never would have voted for it! But I’m thankful I CAN LEARN from pain, and become more, not less!
So, what else am I thankful for? The opportunity right now to reflect on all this, and to know I am loved and lovable, regardless! And to realize no one can take this from me, no matter what happens in the world of medicine and government regarding pain! And it’s so precious, I will work hard to not give it away when difficulties arise! Because they will…and yet that’s not really any different for those who don’t live with physical pain. We all have unseen burdens, and we all can help each other along the way…I’m thankful for this also!
**Note: Just to define my black hole reference…it is about the horribly alone feeling we have when we realize no matter how much we are loved by others, we are still on our own…with only ourselves! We live with ourselves 24 hours a day, every minute…in pain…and no one can come in there with us. So, this place is dark and scary and sad! We find some hope or count our blessings and it helps steer us back to life. (It isn’t a reference to suicide, although I wonder if some who choose to step into the hole and stay there can then lose hope and turn to suicide at some point.) The black hole may also be the essence of self-pity, on a massively destructive scale. I knew a man who once said self-pity is a great coping tool! You use it for no longer than a couple of days maximum, and then get up and go on down the road! Because he said, it’s boring to be there very long, alone!! There is some truth in that, I suppose! I think the dark place is also where many people can realize God…truly realize there is a loving force bigger than themselves and they aren’t alone. For me, this hole is just my way of explaining a part of the journey of life with change and the resulting loss, the place we are when we start to grieve and heal.