Don’t Come Crying to Me: How can Pain make us Better Friends?

Sometimes those of us who have had very serious struggles can have some hang ups when it’s time to show compassion to our friends. Not all of us, and not always, but there are those times when our friends or family are facing difficulties and we end up doing or saying the very things we complain about people doing/saying to us when we are in need of support.

Why don’t we know better? Spoonies may even be the worst at this. Has anyone ever said, “I shouldn’t be complaining to you about my little ______.” I have come to believe that this is a problem. If anyone should be hearing out someone’s difficult day of not feeling well or emotionally struggling, don’t you think it should be someone who can empathize with feeling crummy? Yes, even if it’s a cold!

We who have gone through our daily battles, we who have lived in survival mode on and off for so long, and then when a loved one falls into his/her own valley: shouldn’t we be the best people for the job of lending an ear? But in stead, we listen to that little voice that says, “Are they kidding me with this?” Or, we try to give them our sage advice to protect them from what is coming. We may know some of what they are facing, but we aren’t them. They have a unique struggle, isolated from ours. Their pain, however similar or maybe seemingly less than ours, is relative to their own experiences in life. A struggle or illness that is tearing someone’s world apart, however lower on the pain scale we believe it is- still is shattering his/her life into pieces in ways we may never understand, and in ways we may never face. (see Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes)

After surviving so many challenges, we often view others’ battles through the lenses of our own lives. Sometimes we go further than relating and into the realm of “been there lived that, bought a T-shirt.” Remember how, “I COMPLETELY understand” feels when someone says it to you on a bad day? It can feel even more isolating.

But we often do understand so many challenges because we have walked such a painful road of our own. We want to make sure our friends know they are not alone. We can be close by emotionally, available, and most of all: COMPASSIONATE. We don’t need to remind them how much pain we also have felt, or how many times we have been in their shoes. We don’t need to compare horror stories or solve their problems every time they have an issue we believe we can solve. Compassion is the language that tells your loved one that they are not walking their harsh road alone.

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I have to confess that this was written in response to a few of my own very dear loved ones recently facing some challenges. I fear I am guilty of failing them in all of the above ways in attempts to “help” when I should be the one person who knows how to handle their pain and grief, shouldn’t I? However, they have been teaching, growing experiences that I am thankful for. In the beginning years of my illness, I used to get secretly annoyed with people for even talking about their allergies in my presence. But now, I want to be the person people come to for comfort. I pray I can continue learning to be a humble, caring, compassionate friend for those I love so much.

“If pain doesn’t lead to humility, you have wasted your suffering.”

-Katerina S. Klemer

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Passengers Conceptual Photograph by Elle Moss | Grant me Compassion in my Friendships

Passengers by Elle Moss

Thank you to Elle Moss Conceptual Fine Art Photography

Please go purchase one of her lovely original prints for your home or gifts. She has so many whimsical, seasonal and Autumn images to choose from.

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About abodyofhope

I do not know why it is that we must wade through tragic circumstances to find truth. We nearly drown! But under the water, there are pearls. I hope in writing this blog, more will come to the surface. Over the past 13 years living with chronic pain, patient advocacy has affected my life through so many remarkable young people, women and men: SURVIVORS. These individuals are HOPE personified. I wish to honor them in the same spirit they have encouraged me to press on. Six years ago, I became bed-bound from a variety of chronic illnesses after a procedure meant to help the pain condition I had been managing for several years- went bust #BIGTIME. In the last 6 years, my entire life has changed. I have changed, but I am still striving to live my best life possible. Along with sharing inspiring pieces, medical/holistic research, and awareness articles, this blog is also an attempt to put my own pieces back together. Welcome to A Body of Hope, and thank you for visiting. [Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ RSD, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Dysautonomia, Chronic Intractable Migraine, Cluster headache, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Occipital Neuralgia, Hypersensitivity to Sound & Light, Fibromyalgia, Cerebrospinal Fluid Imbalance......blah, blah, blah] >>> P.S. My headgear is protective for pain. I just rock it hard.

Posted on October 27, 2014, in Chronic Pain, Friendship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. One can relate without feeling you completely understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your response and for always having such thoughtful comments. I so appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment.
    I think in my own life when people constantly compare how well they know my pain, it has made me feel more alone. That has taught me something about compassion and friendship.

    Like

  3. I love this post. It is so easy when life is painful and difficult to stop really listening to people going through their own problems, and I often find myself thinking that they don’t know what real hardship is – something I am not at all proud of. Your post has really highlighted to me how important it is to use what we go through to help others and not just to compare others situations. It’s something I now want to do a lot better than I have in the past. Thank u 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa, your comment has brightened my whole day. That’s so true. Sometimes we can feel like the owners of pain and it can become a barrier in that way, but it really is what unites us with others. Everyone has pain. I love how you are trying to turn your struggles into more kindness. Good stuff!

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  5. Excellent post, thank you for sharing. Last Saturday I was given the privilege in the evening to encourage a young couple in their mid-20s who have close relatives suffering in a severe manner. I was overjoyed that my 11 years of chronic pain in rare pain syndromes and much research would be put to good use. They asked if they could pass on my details to help these two people in question. It was an answer to prayer. Even being homebound and needing much help in different areas The Lord could still use me to encourage,guide comfort and listen to these two new people that I have never met before. What a privilege that we can comfort others when we have been comforted ourselves in the past, as scripture tells us to. 😊

    Like

    • Thank you so much for sharing that amazing experience, Nancy! What a blessing you must have been to this couple, who have to be feeling so isolated, to have someone on this earth who can empathize with what they are going through. They couldn’t have spoken to a kinder person in their time of need ❤
      In our weakness, we can be used even more to encourage others- Just as you are always an encouragement online as well!

      Like

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