How Chronic Pain Affects Family – The Emotions of It All

by Laura

When I wrote the first few words in the title “How Chronic Pain Affects Family”, an immediate lump came to my throat. I decided to add the second part..”The Emotions of It All” because the last 20 plus years for me living with fibromyalgia has been nothing less than an emotional roller coaster for each member of my little family unit. It has indirectly affected my other family members as well, but there is nothing that can compare to the dynamics that exist in day to day living as a family.

My children have always been there for me, and I for them, but at the same time I have always felt like my illness has robbed them of something, particularly time and activity with their mom. I did my best to make the school plays, and parent-teacher conferences. I baked and staffed the bake sales, and even volunteered a few times as a room mother. Alas there were those times when the pain was so bad or a migraine prevented my participation. To outsiders, who could not “see” anything wrong with their mom, I was quite the flake. I am sure that took a toll on the kids, and their dad.

As the kids got older, another child came along which was a true blessing in our lives! She actually helped to bring about a healing in my body for a long period of time. My doc at the time thought it was all those great pregnancy hormones. The pain did come back with a vengeance when Rachel was about a year old. My two older kids, and mainly my oldest daughter took over and filled in where necessary with keeping the house running. Over the years we have done our best to substitute the time with activity that I am able to do. They played games and cards on my bed with me, and we got very good at cooking and baking together with me sitting on stool in our kitchen. I am afraid my son, the middle child was robbed the most, and I am still working on mending that wound.

When you are in the pain of fibromyalgia,  depression often accompanies it. Many emotions and much spiritual searching became a quest for me, as I refused to give in to the pain, and chose to fight as hard as I could. It was at this time that I became empowered to LIVE the biggest form of my life as I could and become a much stronger person. I grew farther and farther away from my first husband, as I yearned for a listening ear, and communicating mind that simply was not there for me at the time. It did strain our marriage in many ways. Our marriage did not survive, which was just one more painful brick to pile on for my kids to carry.

For whatever reason, I did have a stretch of healthier years.  I don’t know whether I was blessed with them, or I made sufficient changes that I started to do better. All I know is I kept it up! I programmed my mind with positive thoughts, I meditated daily, and managed to keep the pain at a minimum. Professionally, I was on a roll. I felt more alive, healthy, powerful and empowered than ever in my life. I still had issues with my health, and the ugly monster was lurking, but I did not pay much attention, at least for a little while. It was then that my soul-mate (I don’t really like that term but don’t have other words) came into my life. He connected with my truth and I with his. He was a Chronic Fatigue sufferer, and could completely understand everything I had gone through. At the same time, he pushed me to be ALL that I was, and did not accept any less. We were married and will celebrate 10 years in July 2012. We as a family still go through the roller coaster, but we are a strong unit, connected by love, grateful for every day together.

I think the most important thing to remember, that my kids and husband have always said is “Mom, it’s not your fault, you can’t help it”. This is the God’s-Honest truth. You need to keep it in perspective that you did not give yourself fibromyalgia,MS, Lupus etc., and you’re doing the best you can. We have good days and bad days. As long as we balance the good days with our family and spend time with them, they are totally understanding to give us time and space on the bad days. If life is a series of many bad days in a row, like it recently was for me over the past 8 months, you must dig deep and muster up the courage to be WORTHY of your family’s compassion. You must ASK for HELP!! It’s not always easy!! If you can’t ask for your family’s help who can you ask? If they are resistent, as in a case  perhaps of a new diagnoses, I would educate, educate, educate. The more they know, the more they will be willing to jump in and help. Younger children don’t understand, and preteens can be very selfish at times. Older children must pitch in and lead by example. There is nothing wrong with work. You might  offer incentives for their participation. If they allow you to sleep, you could play a game with them for instance, or take a daughter to her favorite store for 30 minutes.

Families are all we have, other than our friends, and we must embrace their love. Communication is the most important tool you have. Be as honest as you can possibly be. Don’t hold back! If you hurt..say so. If you need space, say so. The family will be stronger as a unit, because they will have a happier mom or dad, who is cared for, rested, and loved. The kids will be happier, because mom is keeping their needs in mind.


I welcome your comments below. What family experiences have you had?

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