“You must see your pain differently now.”
“It’s amazing how you’ve turned it into something beautiful.”
“Acceptance is key.”
“You’re so brave”
I’ve never understood why it was so important to other people that my pain be something positive to me. (And the whole disabled community, really). I guess I don’t see how this isn’t a form of subtle gaslighting. It’s the same thing we tell to people with trauma – “oh your trauma must make you stronger, it made you who you are today”. Where’s the space for these experiences to just be fucking terrible? There is nothing brave about being disabled, or having trauma. It’s simply something that happened, and most days it just makes it harder to get out of bed in the morning. As grateful as I am for the path that my chronic pain has taken me on in an artistic sense, I still think at the end of the day I just want to be able to stand and cook myself dinner without suffering the consequences that has on my body. I want to wear a backpack or go grocery shopping without struggling to carry my bags the 15ft to my car. I find it so exhausting the way our culture despises “negative” emotions like some strange, socially acceptable phobia. Why can’t we let our loved ones sit with their grief and anger like old friends. Hold hands with them and listen until they are ready to lift up off the couch and close the door softly behind themselves. Maybe sometimes things don’t have a silver lining – they’re just a cloud. I’m not an unhappy person because of my pain anymore, but I still wish every day that it would go away. I think it would be okay if I was unhappy. Able-bodied people are unhappy sometimes too.
What I feel like I have learned from this “journey”, is that life is much less about avoiding everything that seems uncomfortable. Life is more about letting those things coexist with us – facing the dark and scary parts of our self, others and the world and making eye contact. Saying “I see you” and then moving forward, however slowly. Not everything needs to be a “blessing in disguise”. And that’s okay. Because some things will be.