4th and Pain is a chronic pain blog that sheds light on a much needed topic. This is something people have far too little awareness of. If I received a nickel for every time somebody said something offensive to me about my situation, I’d be a rich man. It’s not their fault, they just don’t know because they haven’t been in a situation like this. I have thick skin and don’t hold it against them, but you better believe it makes being around them less pleasurable.
Saying things like, “I understand what you’re going through” is offensive.
An apparently harmless phrase like that minimizes my experience and says that you’re capable of knowing what it’s like to be in excruciating pain all day. Not only are you capable of knowing what it’s like even though you’ve never been in my shoes, you actually understand it too. Do you really, Bob?
You know what it’s like to have physical limitations on what you can do, how you can sleep, what you can eat, and pain flares with the weather? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t blame people for their ignorance, but it’s time they learn what it’s like. No, I don’t wish for them to have to live in chronic pain but I wish they could conceptualize what it’s like so they can have a better understanding.
You can’t fully understand something without experiencing it. Until you experience it, you only can have a conceptual understanding. Experiential understanding is when you truly understand what someone is going through.
Have An Open Mind
To read a blog like this, you have to have an open mind. Even if someone’s experience sounds dramatic or crazy to you, the last thing you want to do is discredit someone’s experience. Pain is a tricky animal that is relative from person to person. Some people’s immune system overreacts and causes unbearable pain in the process. These things are impossible to understand until you hear a detailed account and read the science of it. With both of those methods you will be able to gain a conceptual understanding. The science is really mind boggling.
The way different disorders and diseases work would never occur to you until you study them. I didn’t think such things were possible with the human body. Come to find out, anything is possible. The human body is a marvelous machine that has unlimited potential. The potential can create Usain Bolt or it can create Hellen Keller. It swings both ways. Hellen Keller is a great example because she’s someone who didn’t let her “disabilities” effect her ability to have an impact on the world.
She had a bigger impact on the world than people who are fully able-bodied.