People who are dealing with chronic pain will often say that it has given them perspective. Other people, who are dealing with other issues, will say the same. Our struggles, whatever they might be, have given us perspective on a myriad of things. Great, good for us.
But I also feel like maybe we lost some perspective due to the struggle. Or rather, there’s is still a large part of the puzzle that we are not seeing, precisely because we are so focused on either our struggle or on the perspective this struggle has given us (you know, the one where we’ve realized “what’s really important”)
perspective not yet gained
In spite of the what’s-really-important-perspective, I still find myself thinking sometimes about things I missed out on as a result of my chronic pain. And I’m starting to realize that whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself about everything I can’t do (because let’s not pretend that we are 100% the inspiring, non-winy, strong-in-the-face-of-adversity kind of person we wish we were) I don’t take the whole picture into consideration.
When in one of those moods, I’m only focused on the good things ‘I would have had’ – if it weren’t for my chronic pain. I never think about the bad things I would’ve had.
Let’s try out some of my assumptions:
#1. If I didn’t have chronic pain, I would have had an awesome job and a wonderful career by now.
Do any of my peers have that? Or, are they struggling to get there? Frustrated with how things are turning out, learning to adjust their expectations, failing, getting up, failing a bunch more and all that good fun stuff – just like me?
And even if they do have their dream job, are they maybe also dealing with horrible bosses, boring meetings, trying to balance their work and personal life, failing miserably, and working happily toward their midlife crisis?
Sure, there’s always that one person who seems to have their shit together, but for the most part – life without chronic health problems isn’t an endless party with rainbows and unicorns and perfect perfectness across all areas of life.
#2. If I didn’t have chronic pain, I would have met an awesome guy, fallen madly in love and have a perfect little family by now.
Okay, that one is a bit more likely. I might’ve had a perfect little family by now. A lot of people around me certainly have perfect little families.
But then there are the ones who don’t. And who’s to say which scenario would have been mine?
I could have fallen madly in love with a guy, married him, only for him to cheat on me and break my heart. Or abused me and punched me into the hospital. Given me an STD that left me infertile. Or I could have started a prefect family, and then lose my husband and child in a terrible car accident. That happens and it is heart breaking.
I mean, Jennifer Aniston married Brad Pitt for god’s sake, and that didn’t exactly turn into a perfect little family. In fact, Brad’s perfect kinda big family with Angelina has already fallen apart. So if the people who’s dreams did come true are facing obstacles, you can be sure that even in the scenario you missed out on, you would have had a fun collection of setbacks coming your way.
My point is, everybody struggles.
We all know that it is through these struggles that we become aware of what’s important. We gain perspective and realize how maybe it wasn’t such a big deal that we put on nice clean socks this morning, and then stepped into something wet on the bathroom floor.
Maybe what matters is that we have loved ones around us who will listen to our stupid little rant about the clean-socks-wet-bathroom-floor situation. This is the perspective that people usually talk about, when they say that their setbacks have taught them what life is really about.
Still, while we struggle, we will always spend time grieving the opportunities we lost. And we should take time for that, self-care is important.
But we never stop to realize that the road untraveled comes with its own set of ups and downs. And that is actually a pretty helpful way of looking at things if you ask me. It has certainly helped me at least. A lot. The obstacles would have been different on that other road, but they would have been there for sure, because no road is without them.
And if there were such a road, it probably wouldn’t really lead to anywhere exiting anyway.