I just read this in a book, "there is an allotment of failures in any life before the life itself becomes a failed one."
I have often thought of my life as a failed one.
My sisters first turned on me when it looked like my life was going to be a success, that it was going to turn out the way I wanted. When the pain started I thought maybe the failure of my life, of my plans, would make a difference. It changed nothing. Including my definition of my life as having failed.
Looked at in the context of what ius commonly called success: working at a job you like, a husband (spouse) or life partner, possibly children or extended family, friends who are there for you and so on, my life is not a success.
When I read what many people with chronic pain write, in posts, blogs, emails, support groups, I see repeated declarations of 'my life is a failure, I am a failure."
What if we changed the definition?
Fighting, long and hard, against daily pain, against the challenges it puts in our way, day after day. Is that not a success? Feeling that some of the challenges are not possible to overcome, that does not nake us a failure, it lets us pick and choose our battles.
I think of the many surgeries I have had, having to go through most completely alone, including making the initial decisions to have them. I did not fail. I did not turn tail and run. I faced the pain and the choices, many with risks that were scary. There is not failure in not going ahead with procedures, treatments, etc: the success is in making the choice.
Many of us have to decide, day in day out, sometimes by the hour or even minute, what we will do, what we can do. For some of us the first decision is can we get out of the bed or is the pain too bad? The choice-making is the positive, even when the choice is I need to stay in bed right now.
I look at my life. By all accounts, by the ones I use - it is a failure. But when I look at it the way others have told me to; I wrote a book, I started a women in pain awareness group, I continue to fight the pain, by taking the meds, by doing some things I know will make the pain worse but doing them anyway, I cannot bring myself to say it is a success. I can say I have not yet had my allotment of failures.
It is hard sometimes to not just see the negative, especially when you live with chronic physical pain.
If we see our life only in gray and black, pain and more pain, and refuse to let in the light of the good things - even tying our shoes, walking for 10 minutes, or, for me, reading and using my eyes before the pain hits, or that happens in our lives; time without pain, a ride on the car, talking with a friend, then we have let ourselves say "my life has failed."
There is a picture of a vase that is also a picture of a face. You have probably seen it. Substitute the vase with your picture of failure and the face with your definition of success. Whether you see the failure on the outside and success contained within or vice-versa, maybe now is a good time to look at the picture from the other direction.