This past June, for migraine awareness month, I did a fair amount of posting on my personal facebook page about migraines and chronic migraines. For the first time ever, I tried to make it personal and opened up about some of the symptoms I experience beyond pain and some of the ways it has effected me and my life. At the end of the month I posted some of my stats from the month, including the number of days I was in pain, the number of migraines I had and the number I am allowed to treat. June was actually a mild month so I went ahead and pointed that out as well.
I wanted to be a little more open about my experience with chronic pain. I wanted my friends and family to get some sense of how serious and complicated migraines can be. While all of my facebook friends know I have them, very few have any concept of what this means and just how intrusive it is. I wanted to raise some awareness.
I actually got several comments - my posts rarely get comments so this sort of took me by surprise. People were saying things like "poor you", "horrible", "I'm so sorry", "praying for you" and such. A couple also expressed appreciation for all the info, saying they had learned something. Frankly, the response from the commenters was ideal. Everyone was kind, supportive and sympathetic.
All of this to say
I felt pitied and that made me feel very uneasy. I've thought about it frequently since and still can't quite figure out why. Seems to me, feeling sorry for the pain someone else is going through (sympathy and empathy) is a natural human response. I certainly don't want my friends and family to feel indifferent or pleased about what I'm going through.
So this is what I'm thinking
-Maybe I'm confusing pity and sympathy. No, seems to me the words are pretty similar even if pity has a slightly different connotation.
-Maybe I'm actually feeling more exposed than usual. After all, I spend a good amount of effort trying to appear normal during my interactions with friends and family. I cover my tired face and eyes with make-up. I try to dress well. I smile and laugh. I relish the time I have out in the world, doing normal stuff.
-Or maybe I just want it both ways. I want people to know what my life is like so they can understand the abnormal things I do. And I want them to see me as normal because I don't want our time together to be burdened with my crap. Perhaps this makes the most sense.
I can't have it both ways. I must find a way to reconcile these opposing approaches or it will always bother me.