We’ve all heard the colloquialism “comparison is the thief of joy.” Is there a more appropriate sentiment for those living in chronic pain? I remember a time when comparisons used to fuel me. I wanted to train harder so that I could beat my times on the track, or study longer so that I could raise my GPA. I would set goals for myself based on the performance of those around me, firmly believing in that method of gauging my success.
At some point in the last few years how I spend my time has drastically changed. Let’s take today, for example, which has been largely unproductive. After determining last night that I would not be leaving town today, I realized I had most of the day open to do whatever I wish. Usually on a Saturday in Spring that means lying out in the sun while I do laundry. Unfortunately, it’s drizzly and cloudy in New Orleans today, so I’m just lying around the house in leggings and the tee in which I slept (while the washer and dryer are running), trying desperately to muster the energy to run the single errand I need to today.
So let’s say I do, at some point, successfully run that one errand, and that the laundry eventually gets done. Maybe I’ll even have the stamina to vacuum and mop the floors, but that’s a big maybe today. When I’m at dinner with my friend tonight or talking to my boyfriend later, each will inevitably ask that question “What did you do today?” I will likely answer in a way that inflates the bit I accomplished that looks good, and minimize the things that expose my laziness. I will find a way to make it seem like the housework and errands took all day, rather than the truth that it only took a couple of hours, and watched Teen Mom 2 the rest of the day. I won’t say that I actually scheduled my bath like some schedule a lunch date and that the thought of having to blow-dry my hair loomed over me the entire day.
When I step back and think about why I behave this way, I’m pretty disappointed in myself and my inability to have an honest interaction with others when it comes to my productivity, or my pain, for that matter (but let’s just take this one at a time, shall we?). Of course, there is that rare occasion when I tell someone “Today’s just been a bad day and I have barely been able to get dressed.” (And usually I say it so flippantly, as if being unable to put clothes on is hysterical, that the person with whom I’m speaking ends up laughing with me.) Those times I openly share are rare, however, and really only follow a weekend when I traveled, was overly busy, or had a clear excuse concerning why I was hurting.
But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? Why do I feel I need a reason to justify my pain, and why do I have the need to feel productive each day? In the middle of writing this post, my best friend called and I learned that she has already cooked two meals, completed a slew of errands, and accomplished some yard work today. I haven’t even put a bra on! Can we all just agree that “What did you do today” is a rude question and should never be asked??
I’m going to try not to worry about what she’s done today, and what other friends and family are inevitably accomplishing. I’m going instead to find solace in knowing that I at least published this blog post, and that a maximum of ten people will read it before the weekend is up.