a work in progress

you don’t always have to be grateful that it isn’t worse

Count your blessings.

We never get more than we can handle.

It’s darkest before the dawn.

Everything always works out in the end.

I hate platitudes. I thought everyone shared this sentiment, but somehow they seem to creep into conversations. I never hear these gems more than when the topic of my orthopedic issues or chronic pain arises.

And each time this happens I want to punch the person who muttered that nonsense in the throat. While these people are typically well-intentioned, caring, and more a victim to not knowing what to say than anything else, it still bothers me. You know what they say, though; don’t cry over spilt milk. Awful.

More annoying than the actual expressions, however, is the basic meaning behind them : It’s going to be fine / Things could be worse / Get over it. I agree that a dose of perspective or toughening up is essential to coping with life’s struggles, but from time to time I just want to wallow in it and be really miserable. Yes, things could be worse, but that doesn’t mean they don’t really suck right now.

So occasionally that’s what I do. I hide out, mope around, and really lean into it. I’ll watch Marley and Me or some other sweet-sad movie that will have me ugly crying by the credits (speaking of clichés…). I’ll taunt myself with social media, enviously witnessing the fun other people seem to have, and I will convince myself that I will never be capable of having a good time again. I will even refuse invites from others to keep up the pathetic atmosphere I am working so hard to cultivate. Sometimes I actually find myself deep cleaning my house just to make sure I’m having a terrible time. Apparently it takes a lot of effort to make me feel I’ve reached an acceptable level of misery.

The day after a pity party is usually pretty solid. People in chronic pain (I’m speaking in general terms now) are ninjas at bottling things up. We survive on dismissing the negative, whether it’s a physical pain or an emotion, and from time to time we have to unload. I’ve lost the ability to go for a long run, take a spin class, or even partake in a big night out with friends, but I can still sit at home and feel sorry for myself.

I guess the trick is to find what works for you, and hope that you can squeeze it in before you reach your limit. Trust me, it took me years to figure out this balance, and I still mess it up. But I really try to get this one right, because I find it’s nice to wake up the next morning and not have to construct a list of people to whom I need to apologize and/or explain myself; it really takes the fun out of it.

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