A couple of years ago at a dinner party, my friend introduced me to a colleague of hers who was a physician. When this doctor heard that I had a chronic pain condition, she told me her theory about Fibromyalgia:
“Many people probably experience the same pain as someone with Fibromyalgia, but for some reason the people with this condition just take it to a whole new level. I think it’s related to their emotional make up or something in their past.”
“I agree. Many of my past experiences and the way I held my stress set me up for chronic pelvic pain. But I also have some trouble with your explanation.”
“Why? Because it shows weakness?”
“Yes. Many people with chronic pain are like me. I’m not weak; in fact I tried to stay strong for too long. I didn’t get the pain because I was over-emotional; I wasn’t emotional enough.”
When I was driving home that night it occurred to me that there were two different ways to view my pain condition. The pain could be a sign that my body was breaking down because of my suppressed trauma and emotional reactions. But it could also be a signal from my body to look, process and heal. With the first perspective, I am cast as a “broken victim”, but with the second I get to be a “healing student”.
I decided to take the second role.