Posted in Fibromyaloga, rheumatoid arthritis

Why Me?

When you suffer from/live with a chronic illness, “why me?” is a question you ask often.  Being sick is a personal thing especially when it feels like you are being punished.  If we feel pain and we feel as if we are suffering, then we ask this question.  We don’t ask it when good things happen. Could you imagine saying, “why me?” when it comes to happy events in your life?  With illness and suffering, we have this tendency to believe that we did something to bring it upon our suffering.  Additionally, we want an explanation for our pain and suffering and what we believe (mentally and spiritually) determines the extent of that suffering.

When I was about nine years old, my mom was walking and was hit by a car.  The next six months to a year of our lives involved watching her struggle to regain control of her body and there were times where it took its toll on her.  As a kid, I never understood the extent that her pain had on us.  She struggled but she still managed to take care of us, spend time with us, make us meals, clean our home, etc.  She did all these things despite her own ordeal but we still saw the toll it took on her.  I wonder if she ever asked “why me?” Perhaps, she didn’t or perhaps, I wasn’t listening when she did.  And if she did, was she ever able to answer that question?  As an adult, I can recall her pain but as a child, I do not recalling asking “why my mom?”

When I was diagnosed I wanted to believe I would protect my children from ever knowing the extent of my pain as live with and deal with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.  Four years later and after a whole lot of soul searching, I know that I cannot even get close to hiding the extent of my suffering from my children.  Just like my mother was not able to hide it all those years ago, I am not able to now.  However, I just hope my children do not realize my ordeal until they are adults themselves or hopefully, they never do.

Trying to find out the “why me?” answer is a never ending quest as I have learned.  We can blame stress, genetics, lifestyle, or even God as we try to determine why it is we are suffering.   On our own, we must realize that that our suffering has nothing to do us or anything we have done.  It has to do with being human and with being alive.  To be alive means that we can feel something even if it is pain and suffering.  Suffering offers no discrimination – it does not care about sex, race, religion, age, etc. No one is spared or favored.  There is nothing any can do to avoid suffering and the only way to live life despite that is change our beliefs and the questions we are asking.

To lessen our painful circumstances, we need to stop asking “why me?” as if it is some personal vendetta.  The universe has not picked you to suffer and when it comes down to it, you suffer by your own choosing if you so please.  Chronic illness and pain has nothing against us specifically and unless we escape that mindset, we will never be able to manage our diseases successfully.

Think about the loss of a loved one.  Death never makes sense so for anyone of us to try to make sense of why someone died or suffered only prolongs the grieving process.  That is not to say that it isn’t necessary.  Asking questions allow us to deal with the blows we have been dealt.  However, if it goes on longer than it should, it does not allow us to accept those circumstances.  Changing our questions means we change our experiences and beliefs about suffering. So stop asking “why me?” and start asking “what can I do to make this a better experience?”

As many of us are aware, we are presented with a big task after we are diagnosed – bringing back meaning to our lives, lives that have been altered by chronic illness. It is a grieving process and dealing successfully is critical.  We cannot respond positively if we are still asking “why me?”  You can wrestle with your thoughts all day or you can find ways to busy your thoughts. Pay attention to what you are telling yourself and ask yourself if you are hindering yourself from living positively.  Being aware of our circumstances and our suffering allows us to stop asking why and to move toward making the necessary changes to our lives.  Once the negative self-talk stops and you stop asking why, you will realize that the “why” isn’t as important as the “what now?”


8 thoughts on “Why Me?

  1. I think, after 6 years of chronic pain, that it is less “why me” and more “aren’t they lucky to be healthy.” I don’t feel this is a karmic punishment of any kind, but I do wish others understood how lucky they are to be healthy/comfortable on the daily basis. Chronic pain would be easier to come to terms with on a personal basis if there was a sense of compassion/empathy from the world at large.

    1. I was going to reply in much the same vein as gaiamom; understanding would go a long way and sadly I’ve found it in short supply in real life. Thank you so much for writing this.

  2. “Once the negative self-talk stops and you stop asking why, you will realize that the “why” isn’t as important as the ‘what now?'”

    You’re so right, Lana. I guess I’m odd, though–I’ve never once in 24 years asked “why me?” regarding my RA. It simply didn’t occur to me, I guess because I’ve never thought of the disease as a consequence or punishment for doing something wrong during my life. I’ve always seen RA as, simply, an autoimmune disease that some people get; their actions, good or bad, has nothing to do with it.

    I guess in a way I’m lucky, thinking this way. I’ve never had to subject myself to all that angst trying to figure out how I brought my condition on myself.

    I hope this finds you feeling good, experiencing little pain, and enjoying this toasty summer.

    1. I have had periods of self doubt and I have asked why but over the years, I have gotten into take charge mode. Asking why simply slows progress down, in my opinion. Thanks for stopping by, Wren.

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