I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of feeling as if we do not fit in. That’s actually pretty much my status quo. But every once in a while, I’ll go somewhere or meet someone that makes me feel completely comfortable and at home inside my own skin. When that happens, it’s such a relief. It feels as though I’m removing shoes that are two sizes too small. I feel understood. I can be myself.
We humans are so nomadic and so culturally, emotionally and politically diverse that it’s a rare and precious moment when you find a member of your “tribe.” It’s also a gift to feel at home. These people may not look anything like you, they may be a different age or gender identity or nationality or religion, but you can tell that they get where you’re coming from. And these home places may be far flung and entirely unexpected, but you know that a piece of your very soul resides there.
When you find your tribe or your homeland, embrace that feeling. Hold onto it if you can, if only in your memories. These feelings will remind you of who you are at your very core. And whoever you are, it’s nice to be reminded, sometimes, that you’re exactly who you are supposed to be.
At the moment I have a migraine and I’m at work, so I can’t do anything about it. To say I’m not functioning at my peak would be putting it mildly. I wish I could go home, take my meds, crawl into bed in a dark, quiet room and just wait for the pain to go away. Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury. But at least I can comfort myself with the fact that this, too, shall pass. At least until it happens again.
Not everyone is that lucky. Speaking from (thank God) past experience, living with chronic pain is life-changing. If you’ve never experienced it, you simply don’t understand. You become like an animal. You are all about the pain. Nothing else matters. Everything takes ten times as much energy, and you are constantly exhausted. You would do anything, anything, to just stop hurting.
When you are in that state, you often feel very misunderstood. People become impatient with your foul mood, your lethargy, your increased mistakes. They don’t get why you have trouble focusing, and why you are forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events. They may become frustrated with all the things you can no longer do, and the accommodations and compromises they must therefore make.
It’s very hard when you’re doing the best that you can, but your best isn’t nearly what it ought to be or what it used to be. The constant pain never lets you forget that, but the people around you often can. It alters you. It makes you and everyone who loves you feel helpless.
If you are living with pain, I wish I had a solution for you. I hope you find one. I also hope that you at least get a little bit of comfort from the fact that many of us really do understand.