Let’s get one thing out of the way. All things being equal, it hurts way more when it’s my body doing the hurting – as opposed to someone else. My superpower is not empathy.
That said, sometimes I’d prefer to be the one in pain, rather than watching.
Chronic pain can feel mighty helpless but there are some ways to cope – and I’ve logged A LOT of hours in therapy and counseling over the last few years. I’ve been trying to overcome feelings helplessness in relation to MY pain. There can be a feedback loop to pain. You hurt, feel anxiety/stress because of the pain, which amplifies the pain. It’s much more complicated than that – and that’s only one component (of many) to pain, but breaking that loop helps.
And if you’ve ever heard me say something dismissive about meditation, you’ll never hear it from me again.
That’s not to say I don’t feel pain, but I rarely feel helpless anymore. I feel a certain amount of control. It’s not like I can flip a mental switch and make it go away, but I can do something about it – I can somewhat manage it. If nothing else, a bit of meditation helps take the stress/anxiety (at least partly) out of the equation, and the more tools you have to work on something, the more empowered you feel – and thus not so helpless.
I can’t say the same thing now, with Cheryl suffering some pretty severe, somewhat debilitating, back pain. Now I feel helpless again. Feeling helpless leads to stress. Feeling stressed triggers more of my own pain, which is always in the background… and garsh-darn-it-all, in a way I think I AM feeling a bit of her pain.