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Does Chronic Pain Mean Anything?

Finding Meaning When it’s Lost

By Ashley TrippPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Does Chronic Pain Mean Anything?
Photo by Louis Galvez on Unsplash

When you live with constant pain, illness, etc., there is one question you find yourself asking: does it mean anything?

Not like "does it mean I should go to the doctor" or "does it mean I need to change X?”

More like does it mean anything for our lives? For our character? For our purpose?

Are these just the early chapters to a greater story?

Is there an end in sight where the puzzle pieces fall together and we smack our foreheads in obvious realization as to why our suffering lasted the way it did?

Is it preparing us for something greater?

These questions (misconceptions, hopes-whatever you choose to call them) wrack the brain of the chronically sick.

We so desperately want to get better, so we desperately need this lost youth, lost time, added pain, and added grief to mean something greater than it's face value.

Next year marks a decade since my body betrayed me to a mysterious illness.

Let me repeat: Next year marks a decade since my body betrayed me to a mysterious illness.

Thousands of dollars, dozens of doctors, countless medical tests, and a cabinet full of prescriptions later, and I'm still in the same place.

It's hard to chalk that up to something- but the pain is even greater to dismiss it as nothing.

Like my suffering doesn't even matter-will never matter.

The things I've lost to chronic illness are innumerable: chronic illness is a thief.

And I'm left holding the bag, asking the same questions: Why?

Does this mean anything at all? Is God out there to use something good out of this? Am I tortured for no reason at all? What if all this pain and suffering truly amounts to nothing?

Perhaps that would explain why bent knees, red-rimmed eyes, and pleading hearts don't work.

By Ben Hershey on Unsplash

It's a hard thought to wrestle with. If you're a person of faith, the least it does it plant a seed of doubt. Overtime, it grows into a choking vine.

If you're not, then perhaps you feel righteously furious and justified in your beliefs now.

I'm not here to tell you which side to take. Each person has to deal with what's in front of them however they can.

By Sunguk Kim on Unsplash

Sickness has robbed me of everything.


And the more I try to convince myself it was for something, the more I fear I am utterly wrong.

Sometimes people get sick. They suffer. They die. I'm scared to be one of those people.

There, I said it. My greatest fear: to watch myself waste away in slow motion in the reflection of the eyes' of the ones I love most.

It is because of that fear that these worries bounce around my brain. I find myself scrambling for a purpose, a meaning, to what's happening, what will happen.

What could happen.

By Anderson Rian on Unsplash

For some people, they heal. They do move on. Their illness had a purpose. For others, they don't.

The hard part is you never known which side of the coin you're on until the end.

Chronic illness is an ugly beast. It's painful. It destroys your body and your brain.

After years of mental, emotional, and physical torture, we begin to believe we deserve it.

That it's somehow on us.

We feel useless. Alone. Lost. Purposeless.

A deep, abiding grief sits in our chests. I feel so much shame and guilt and grief it could swallow me whole.

It's just the ugly, unfortunate, and unwanted truth.

By Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Why do I say all of this? Because it is this suffering-this complex, mind and body, life-engulfing pain-that leads to the "Why?"

Whether it's asked in a doctors office, a parent's arms, or screamed at God on the bathroom floor, it is these things that lead us all to the same conclusion:

Why me? Why for so long? Why is there no end? No healing? Why is there so much pain?

So the question of "does chronic illness have meaning?" is extremely relevant to those of us who have them.

By Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Unfortunately reader, it all comes down to you. I believe this is a very personal, pain-wrought question that can only be answered by an equally personal response.

To some, it may have meaning, maybe you can see the silver lining, the life lessons, the compassion for others.

To others, maybe all you can see is the pain, the suffering, and what feels like divine hatred and bullying.

I'm not here to judge. I've been on both sides. In fact, I find myself dancing on the line most days-hoping for meaning but fearing for a lack of it.

But I'm coming to the realization that maybe that's okay.

Maybe it's not so black and white. Some days can be filled with grief, others healing (physically or emotionally), others with a complicated mix of both.

Maybe I can try to live some twisted and knotted up semblance of life here and now.

Even if it's not the life I dreamed for, hoped for, worked for, it could still be my life.

And trust me, this wasn't an easy, overnight realization. It's one that I have to fight for, gripping until my fingernails bleed.

It's a struggle, but it's a fight I'm not willing to give up on quite yet.

People speak of hope as if it is this delicate, ephemeral thing made of whispers and spider's webs. It's not. Hope has dirt on her face, blood on her knuckles, the grit of the cobblestones in her hair, and just spat out a tooth as she rises for another go. - @CrowsFault on Twitter

longevity magazinewellnessspiritualityself carequotespsychologymental healthlifestylehumanityhealthgriefbody

About the Creator

Ashley Tripp

I’m a freelance writer & artist. I create pieces about the things that move me with the hopes that they move my readers too. My work has been featured in multiple publications. Check out my website for more at https://msha.ke/ashleytripp

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