FORGIVENESS MATTERS IN A LIFE OF CHRONIC PAIN

For so many of us who live with chronic pain and or chronic illness, we have had to change. We’ve had change coming out our ears it seems. Loss of careers, friends, loss of a social life, and the list goes on in the many areas of life we have to adjust to, along with the pain and burden of chronic disease.

Many or perhaps most of us have anger issues while we are being inundated and overwhelmed with all of this. We may become a bit bitter and disgruntled to full blown brooding anger at the smallest events in our lives. This can often lead to a life that begins to build up with grudges. Besides change, that anger can come from many sources.

All of us have faced criticism from others, judging us and our conditions which are usually much greater in scope than they understand. People can be cruel, usually from their own self-centered approach to life to complete ignorance or stupidity. Maybe we expect too much understanding at times. I know I often do. Many experiences in life can only be learned through personally living them. That which touches us the closest, the better we are able to understand.

The occurrences in life which hurt us or make us angry can have a huge range, anywhere from a bumbling lab tech or nurse who uses us as a pincushion too many times while trying to draw blood or start an IV; or an inconsiderate or rude doctor who doesn’t listen to us during an exam or may be more interested in his computer than us, the patient.

During this difficult time in our nation and indeed all over the world life is chaos right now. Politics, the pandemic, the isolation and the list lives on and on. Friends, family, medical personnel, are not always thoughtful and can make some insensitive remarks about what they see in our lives. I live with daily nerve pain down the back of my left leg due to a bad injection given to me by a careless nurse two years ago. As both a retired

RN and a patient I can see both sides of this coin. Remember none of us are perfect. That’s human nature as they are busy living lives of their own, with their own issues to face. Insensitive, unkind, stupid and even cruel behavior by others can fester in our already wracked minds as we are more sensitive than we used to be. It is understandable as we have that little critter with the pain hammer whacking at us both day and night. Whacking away, whacking away.

Pain has a way of nagging us, especially if we have to face it constantly each and every day as many of us do; as I do. I have family members who assume my problems are smaller than they actually are. They don’t realize I am down, literally in bed or lying on the bed ninety percent of my life due to the pain in my joints, and back. I also have major issues with my eyes and my mouth and teeth. That involves eyedrops all day long just to see clearly and orally, tooth trouble has changed what I can eat. I have had seven teeth change position and rotate in my mouth. That particular problem is due to painful jaw changes due to Relapsing polychondritis. That is only one of my diseases and it is changing the cartilage all over my body. All of this combined with Sjogren’s Syndrome and metastatic breast cancer is often overwhelming for me.

When you or I are already compromised by so many overwhelming problems and feel lousy so much of the time, it is easy to let resentments and hostilities grow in all areas of our lives. Right now, the whole world appears to be angry. Don’t those of us who live with chronic pain and illness have enough on our plates? I think we do. Thus, the importance of learning the role of forgiveness in our lives. We need to learn to put to rest old resentments and current ones so we can move on and look and live as we are now instead of how we once were. We need to concentrate on the new “us” and deal with “who” we are now and let much of the past go. It is only human to wish and to relive the happiest times but that doesn’t mean they still can’t occur in the present.

I ran across a wonderful story the other day which illustrates this point beautifully. It is a little-known story from World War 11 when the Japanese bombed Brookings, Oregon on Sept. 9, 1942. There was a 1-26 Japanese submarine hiding on the Oregon Coast. They catapulted a single engine float plane piloted by Nobuo Fujita that was carrying 340 pounds of incendiary bombs to drop in the forests near Brookings. Apparently, he was hoping to start a forest fire in revenge for the bombing of Tokyo.

A US forestry student saw what happened from a lookout tower and reported it. Another forest ranger lookout saw the bomb hit, then saw the plane and spotted smoke in the forest. It was damp, no surprise for Oregon our soggy state. By then Fujita had returned his plane to the submarine. The forest rangers put out the fire and only a three-foot crater remained. Three weeks later the same pilot tried a similar action but nothing came out of that attempt. Apparently the first bombing and its crater are still visible via the Mount Emily Bombsite Trail.

In 1962 Nobuo Fujita, greatly ashamed and having lived with guilt over the years, visited Brookings, OR bringing with him a 400-year-old Samurai sword which he had carried with him during the war. He wanted to present it to the town and he stated he was prepared to commit ritual suicide and disembowel himself if the people of Brookings were still angry with him. Imagine how many years had passed and the degree of psychic pain and guilt he had carried with him all those years. Fortunately for him, the people in Brookings did not want him to commit suicide. He gave the sword to the town and apparently it hangs today in the Brookings library. This story appeared in our local newspaper the DAILY ASTORIAN on September 10, 2020 where I read it. He passed away in 1997 and was classified an “honorary citizen” of Brookings after returning to visit the town several times over the years.

I thought this story was a brilliant example of the importance of laying to rest all remorse and guilt from the past as he sought and received forgiveness from the residents of Brookings. What an example of righting a wrong, forgiving oneself and the healing power of forgiveness by others.

It is my hope we can put to rest any and all old and daily resentments because we have enough to battle living with all the health problems so many of us do. Remember to look for the joy in life, even if you have to search and search on some days.

14 thoughts on “FORGIVENESS MATTERS IN A LIFE OF CHRONIC PAIN

  1. Thank you Sue. In spite of all your suffering you are still able to reach out to encourage and care for the rest of us. I’m in a graduate nursing program (I’m back in school after thirty years) and it’s been challenging to say the least. You have given me new purpose and determination to be the best nurse I can be. Thank you.

    • moshieinva, Good to hear from you. Are you taking classes online or in person? Good for you to tackle this after so long a time. What a special challenge indeed. Yes, life is hard for so many people and right now it seems that is everyone. Fondly, and the best of luck with your studies, Sue

      • Good morning Sue. My nursing classes are online, but we are doing our clinical rotations in the hospital. I am finishing my first block in psychiatry, and it has been a very good experience. Thank you for your good wishes and inspiration. I hope today brings you some good moments. M.

  2. Sue
    As usual your story always unfolds to help me..looking into the past and living with it all now
    Always look forward to them
    Things jogging along here up and down
    How are you
    Love chris

    • Chris dear,, hope there are more ups than downs. Pleased you liked the story and the blog. I am just hanging in there, day by day. Love, Sue

      • Yes more ups than downs but always keeping fingers crossed
        I hope while you are hanging in there things are comfortable
        Love chris

  3. You are spot on! I feel that ugly anger going to the top. It maybe because they fail to accept what I am going thru or perhaps think my pain is “in my head”. I know sometimes it comes from my own frustration when I am unable to do a simple task.
    I pray every day for patience and understanding, on my part.
    Love you,
    Anette

    • Anette, I’m sorry you identified, but also glad. The reasons for your understanding with article are sad but sharing our true feelings always helps…airing them out so to speak. Hang in there with me and the millions of us who live with chronic pain can live improved lives. Fondly, Sue

  4. Chris, Thanks for your good wishes for me and the update about you. Actually I am in pain all the time, night and day. The relapsing poly has been very active lately. I had a long, painful oncology visit and also a internist visit this week…two too many. Love, Sue

  5. Sue
    I’m so sorry and disappointed to hear this….a lot of people I know their pain has come on earlier and worse this winter,mine too
    I hope the relapsing poly will abate for you and all the pesky hosp visits slow down just to give you some space
    Love chris

  6. Sue

    I think after acceptance of all the disease, disorders, and malfunctions thrust upon me, anger and learning forgiveness was the hardest.
    I have learned that letting go of anger, hurt and resentment really makes me healthier. Although it was very hard to let go of some things (I actually enjoyed reveling in my hurt). Once I did, it was liking loosing 10 UGLY pounds off my shoulders.
    Resentment when people who know my problems ignore them and my needs. Sometimes I think this stuff is God’s way of teaching me more love. I have just taken the attitude that “it’s not important “ enough for me to stress over. Keeping me calm keeps me in less pain.
    I prefer it that way.
    Pray you are feeling better.
    Love
    Tonie

    • Tonie dear friend, I couldn’t agree more about the stress of anger and resentment being a weight and a burden which weighs us down. We need love, joy and faith as you know very well, to banish these foul feelings. It’s not always easy when the insult is from selfishness by another. So many in this world simply are incapable of true empathy or don’t know what to say. Plain old ugly ignorance is best ignored, don’t you think? My Mom used to use that old expression at such disagreeable times in life, She would say, “Always consider the source.” Bless her. She fought with anger all her life since she was abandoned by her mother as a child. She knew how to fight the battle with faith. When she became the mother of four daughters, she often expressed wonder at how her mother could have walked away from her and her two brothers. Love you, Sue

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