Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Transparency Conundrum

Sometimes it's hard to be open about weaknesses.  We all have things that we feel insecure about in ourselves, and it's difficult to be willing to be open about those things. It's the topic we try to hide from our families, our friends, and even ourselves at times.  It is that topic that draws out our most strenuous knee-jerk reactions against discovery at all costs.  Most people do not enjoy having their weaknesses pointed out to them or to those around them.  This is one reason fibromyalgia can be so hard to share with those around you.  At its core, fibromyalgia feels like weakness--weakness of mind, of body, of emotion, of soul, etc.  At times fibro is referred to as ultra-sensitivity, but I believe a rather accurate label is found in the word "weakness."  What compounds the difficulty is that there is no physical sign of weakness.  It is not as though people can see marks or physical degeneration, so it can be tempting to believe that it is all in your head.  Some doctors even still promote this line of thinking.  All in all, it is a very difficult topic to bring up and/or to be transparent about with others, particularly those around you who love you.  This is the case for this reason among others.

So, why an entire blog post about transparency?  In a sense this entire blog is on the need for more transparency and is, in fact, an attempt to promote that from both sides.  Being transparent about weakness requires a safe environment in which to share that with others.  If other people treat you as if you are making it up, or exaggerating, or even act so over-the-top in their sympathy that it's worse than having it ignored, it's difficult to know how to respond.  In a similar way, I have been told it is also difficult to live with someone in chronic pain, exhaustion, and mental fog and somehow know how to respond as well without resorting to the "I need to fix you" stage.

So here we reach the "transparency conundrum," because obviously it is vitally important to have someone there to help deal with what is going on, but it is equally important that they are not bogged down in your problems.  When you are just starting this process it can be hard to understand how much to share, what to share, and when to share.  Eventually a compromise system has to come info effect, but it will look different for different people.

Bottom line: It is incredibly harder than you probably realize to work through finding how to be biblically transparent in fibro or any condition that involves chronic pain.  If you find yourself in a situation of living around it or even living with, remember that the person, who is somebody you care about, is dealing with a lot and a major stigma against it from the outside world.  Be willing to share your struggle through it.  More so, if you are living with someone who finds it difficult to share, take the initiative to find a way to know what's going on.  This process can be messy and difficult, but it is not impossible.  Put in the work, and you will be glad you did.

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