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Monday March 11th 2019


Chronic Snarkopolist: Picking Our Pain

Post Published: 11 August 2011
Category: Chronic Autoimmune Conditions, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has 2 responses. Leave a comment


Hello my loves!

It is rare that any of us get to pick our pain, either physical or emotional. This means when chances to actually choose between taking care of myself or walking into a painful situation, I’m learning the art of self-preservation. I’m also learning that taking excellent care of myself is not only not selfish, it is vital to taking care of others.

I’ve noticed that when life slams into me, it ads additional burdens and pain in all other areas of my life. My friendships, my intellectual pursuits, even my sense of humor take a hit. If I am a patient who deals with physical pain or fatigue, or simply follow a normal routine, as the added stress of caretaking a family member increases, and so do the pain and emotional distress.

One thing many people do is have a hard time saying no. One mentor told me, “Melissa, no one will ever remember the ‘no’ you give but they will always remember the ‘yes’ you say but perform badly.” She was referring to professional situations. But I am referring to personal situations and even to the relationship we have with ourselves.

Now I am considering times when we find out a diagnosis we do not want. Or, waiting for the results. Or even, sometimes, getting negative results back and having no explanation for a series of inexplicable symptoms. Dealing with an unknown etiology and having no real treatment is draining. Finding out our loved ones have dreadful illnesses is painful. Watching our friends and loved ones deal with horrific illness is painful, as being a caretaker during chronic illness.

How then, can we have any choice at all in the painful, stressful, or draining moments of our lives? I’m slowly finding very limited amounts of “choice.” I would LOVE to know how you add to your choices. I myself find that connecting with people who wish to connect with me a supremely fulfilling and delightful way of keeping myself sane. That said, I limit the people who harm me, drain me, or don’t reciprocate with me. I am learning more and more how to create boundaries with people who are not kind or have shown in the past they do not have good boundaries themselves. Sometimes both of us are in high intensity places and just need to step back and establish good communication or good approaches. And other times, some people clearly need to be removed from my life all together. If knowing someone adds more pain than joy, and if that person is not someone I NEED in my life, like a family member, I can pick my pain. If they are family or a co-worker, I can practice clear boundaries and direct communication, breathing and awareness.

One woman told me of her sister who is mentally unstable but able to navigate life. The woman said, “I felt I was being very conscious and kind to my sister and did NOT fight with her or allow her to drag me into her world of bickering or drama. But when our mother got home, my sister said, ‘She tried to kill me with her eyes.’”

Some people will always trigger us or drain us or emotionally bring us pain. Some people will be so wrapped up in their own psychotic worlds no matter what we do, the other person will under our efforts as damaging or harmful.
This is when I also say – take excellent care of your own health. Get your massages, take your supplements and medications on a regular schedule. Get the very best food and even when others are demanding your time or caretaking energy – make time to pack good food for yourself and do not eat crap. Eat the foods that sustain your health. If you are unwell and tired, get your rest. If you need to call in other help to co-caretake do what you need. And, if giving of yourself brings you joy, sometimes volunteering and bring other people joy does add that in – just create a sense of balance in life.

I have found time and again that if there is no reciprocity in my relationships I feel diminished. I cannot be either a constant giver or a constant taker. And I am learning to accept kindness and recognize that I am worth loving. I have also found that reaching out my hands when others are in need makes me feel like I matter.

Rare are the times when I can actually say, “This isn’t working for me, I don’t like it when you say that.” Or, think to myself, “Every time I eat this food I feel like crap for two days.” It is now that I have the opportunity to pick my pain, the small pain, but at least I have given myself some choice. And, I am scheduling in taking care of myself time, even though it ads a burden to me. It indicates to myself that I am worth it. I matter. Every time I take my vitamin or get proper rest I am saying to myself, “You are worth loving.”

What do you think? How have you set good boundaries in the past? How have you picked your pain? How do you take excellent care of yourself? How do you balance being a patient and a caretaker at the same time? Please tell me! I must know!

I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!

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2 Responses to “Chronic Snarkopolist: Picking Our Pain”

  1. Joanne Naso says:

    Nineteen years ago when my father was dying of cancer, he very clearly described how some people gave him energy, and others’ zapped it. I remember being amazed when he refused to visit with some of my aunts or uncles, or his life-long friends. I have now learned the wisdom of his words. I am a “veteran” 4-month survivor of thyroid cancer, and I can definitely understand the energy-givers and the energy-takers. I try to surround myself with people that make me better, not exhausted. In this way, I am taking care of myself as I continue on the roller-coaster!

  2. Lolly says:

    Melly -Mel yet another outstanding column from you..I connect with every word you write and understand fully everything you are saying..Lately i have been trying to move away from negative forces in my life the ones that want to bring me down to there level and zapp my energy..I have had to say NO it was the hardest thing to say but for my own well being i have had to say No a few times.. I cannot do this for you anymore my health is more important and I am not going to jeopardise it because you w nt something doing find another who will do it for you or do it yourself for i can no longer be your rock or your doormat.


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