Nothing More Lonely

Last night, it was Friday night in my part of the world, and by 8pm I was in bed wishing for sleep.  It had been a hard fibromyalgia day that started with fatigue after a Thursday with too much packed into it (when will I learn?).  That fatigue had progressed into pain as the day went on.  While I wanted to stay up later, I had simply had enough of pain, and being alone with it.  There is nothing more lonely than being in pain, alone.

I didn’t need anyone to save me from my pain.  That would have been nice but I knew it was never going to happen.  If they were willing to get me chilled water when I wanted it (I hate room temperature water) that would have been lovely, as getting up and struggling to the kitchen was growing in difficulty.  But actually I simply needed someone there who knew I was in pain.  And I needed to know that they knew I was in pain.

Image credit: FB/A Beautiful Mess Inside
Image credit: FB/A Beautiful Mess Inside

What I didn’t need is someone to tell me to “get over it“, or “it’s not that bad” or even “everything will be alright tomorrow“.  I, like probably most of us, have had those lines thrown at me in the past, and really, none of it helps.  In my moments (and longer) of pain I don’t need advice.  What I need is compassion and empathy.  The person who is able to be with me quietly, resisting the urge to throw me advice or platitudes is the person I want with me.

What I have been talking about so far is chronic physical pain.  For me last night, my muscles and joints ached and my skin felt like it was on fire.  The bedding resting on my skin was so uncomfortable that I ended up sleeping without it.  It’s standard fibro pain.  I seriously felt like no one in the world knew how much pain I as in, and how sick of it I was.  I felt very lonely.  I needed to know that someone else knew, even if they couldn’t remove it.

But this doesn’t just apply to physical pain.  It applies just as much to emotional and mental pain.  I spent years insisting that I wanted to be alone, but once I was, I couldn’t bear it.  Do you know that feeling?  Pushing people away, yet really wanting someone to hear and understand… without advice.

Many times in my life I have heard “you made your bed, now lie in it“.  Does that sound familiar?  It seems that I had made things as they were and I only had myself to blame.  Even if that were true, it doesn’t take away my need for care and empathy.

Regularly when I was depressed I believed that I couldn’t bear to be around people.  The worst thing was a room full of people, because I would believe that no one knew I was in pain and no one cared.  Sometimes I even needed the evidence of a physical scar so that perhaps someone would get the degree of pain I was in.  Actually I suspect that sometimes no one did understand or care, because so often people don’t stop to think how those around them feel.  But I would go home, and be alone, only to have never felt so alone in my life.

Of course I made that bed for myself too.  I convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone and I particularly didn’t need to be in a relationship with anyone.  I could even say convincingly that I was happy to be single.

Actually I think that I talked myself into that.  I convinced myself that I was better to let no one come near me.  When so-called  friends judged me once too many times, I convinced myself that I didn’t need them either.  All I believed I needed was my cat.  The good thing was that she would never hurt me, and if I didn’t let anyone else in, then neither would they.

I’ve changed.  I’m not so adamant of my ‘need’ for alone-ness.  What’s more I am now prepared to take a few risks in terms of letting people get near.  Maybe if I let the right people in, then I am not so alone when I am in pain.  I want to be connected to other human beings.

To have someone understand that I am in pain, either physically or mentally, now means the world to me.  It’s not that I need sympathy, and I know no one can remove my pain, but simply I am not as alone in the world when someone makes the effort to hear it, and when I let them.

“Few things a doctor does are more important than relieving pain. . . pain is soul destroying. No patient should have to endure intense pain unnecessarily. The quality of mercy is essential to the practice of medicine; here, of all places, it should not be strained.” 

―    Marcia Angell


16 thoughts on “Nothing More Lonely

  1. i’m so sorry you’re in such pain sending gentle ((hugs)) your way. i totally get wanting to be alone but feeling lonely. i haven’t met a soul in the 7 months i’ve lived where i am the part of me that knows that’s not good wants a friend, the part of me that is worried about too many expectations and commitments doesn’t, it’s overwhelming to me. also the social phobia/BDD thing…

  2. Linda Wise

    I am so sorry it hurts. Yes, to have someone ‘honor’, believe, in the pain. Someone who honors my experience. I took a very big step back in my RA pain recently. I’m coming back, but oh oh ohhhh. And i couldn’t help but make noise – it was hard-wired to my pain when i moved. And it was so reassuring when my little dog would look at me, her head cocked to the side, and such concern in her face. Now this week i’ve had allergies – which i hardly ever get. And i would SNEEZE. I do not do quiet sneezes. After a SNEEZE, she’d look at me like, “And What the Hell is THAT Now!!??”

  3. Sending thoughts your way. I also have fibro, arthritis, and a host of other health issues. The point being no one is in your body and knows how much pain you are in or what your are feeling. I have not been able to work and have had to drop out of the program that I was in in my last semester. Sometimes I get tired of hearing well I know …. who has fibro and they are working and are fine. Great for them, however I am not at that point. If you want to follow my blog, I have choosen to follow yours and am here to just listen not judge or give my 2 cents. Well unless asked!! Hope you feel a little better today.

    1. I think that’s the thing. No one experiences our pain and hardship. Of course everyone can claim that, but sometimes it would be nice if someone just got it for a bit. Thanks. I’m heading to your blog now. 🙂

    1. Thanks fibrofella. I might feel lonely sometimes but knowing my fellow sufferers are out there somewhere actually makes a difference. Better today? Hmm. Marginal but hey, I’m alive and today I am thankful for that. I hope you’re doing ok.

  4. HUggggggs. I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well. If I lived close by I would totally bring you chilled water when you asked for it. As for those people who tell you to get over it….I have many nasty nasty words. But I am a lady, so I will just say this: Fuck em.

    1. I love that someone will say that on my behalf. Thank you. As for the chilled water, you might have to bring your own refrigerator with you but you’ll always be welcome, especially with chilled water. 😉

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