I’ll always remember, my mom used to tell me she could look into my eyes and know how I felt. It always irritated me. I didn’t like it when other people knew I didn’t feel good. I wanted my health to be private.
During the height of being sick in 2009, an ER doctor and friend of mine made a comment I will never forget. I saw him about 4 weeks after I quit taking pain pills. He asked how I was doing. “Fine.” I knew better. Ours was not a surface relationship. As soon as I said “fine” I knew it wasn’t a satisfactory answer. He smiled, “No really, how are you feeling?” I exhaled, letting my guard down,”I’m ok. I quit taking pain pills.” I paused for a minute, hoping my response was enough… “I still have intense pain, but I am starting to feel like myself. The fog is gone.” My friend smiles,”I know.” I felt embarrassed and exposed. “You knew I wasn’t taking any pain pills?” “Yea. It’s my job to see what medication someone is on in few seconds. And I wanted you to acknowledge that you haven’t taken any pain pills. I wanted you to hear yourself say that even though you are in pain, you felt better. That you felt like yourself. I could see it in your eyes.” I started crying. He was right, I needed to say it out loud. I cried because I felt ashamed. All I wanted was to exist in the world and feel like a normal person. I never wanted it to be obvious that I needed medication.
Recently, I was at home with my family, and my Dad got really serious. He asked how I was doing. Not a casual, hey, how’s it going? But a real, concerned inquiry. “How are you doing?” “Really well” I answered confindently. My body felt better than it had in years. “I know” he says. “You look really good, I can see it in your eyes.”