Editor’s note: Stuart Smith is married to Ellen Lenox Smith—a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. This is how he discusses his relationship with Ellen, who has written extensively on her battle with EDS.
Here’s how they describe the mission.
“We have spent years seeking treatments both conventional and non-conventional for Ellen’s rare condition. While better pain management is the immediate goal our web site, the goal is emotional and yes, spiritual renewal. Without effective pain management, chronic pain sufferers often lose hope and any sense of meaning and dignity in their lives. Our efforts are directed at improving pain management, thus allowing for personal renewal and the most essential element to wellbeing, a sense of hope.”
I was raised in a family with a traditional structure to include one set of parents and two sets of grandparents. Due to the geographic locations of my grandparents, our contact was somewhat limited. Looking back at my childhood, I realize that while there was a strong emotional attachment among family members, emotions were not communicated in a healthy manner. Perhaps this was due to this era but for whatever reason, I now realize the result of this minimal communication, I never really had the opportunity to know and understand my grandparents. Issues that may have dredged up strong emotions were avoided. For example, one of my grandfathers was a minister and he took his own life before I was born. Both of my grandmothers suffered from physical disabilities which were never discussed in private or as a general topic of family conversation. The result was that now, as an older adult, I realize the loss I suffered in not really knowing or understanding my most important relatives, my grandparents.
I think that somehow my parents felt that they were protecting me and my sisters from the discomfort of sharing the pain and suffering of loved ones. Unfortunately, this failed as I feel more pain over this unintended loss of deeply understanding what my grandparents may have felt. This lack of understanding, I now realize, was a clear impediment to deepening a healthy emotional relationship with all the pain and rewards which accompany this type of connection.
So, speak to your children. Emotional discomfort is part of life. Healthy relationships require directness and honesty. Don’t leave the skeletons in the closet with your children. They will almost certainly suffer from not understanding in the long run.