The constancy of pain


I lay awake and hear the words echo in the distance of daylight “he looks alright to me.” Each turn and toss and shuffle and stretch brings momentary ease, soon eradicated by dis-ease. This long-term, cruel companion is one I neither value or care for and no matter what I do or what drugs I swallow, it eventually returns to accompany my nights and poke my waking moments like a guilty secret coming back to haunt me each and every day but “he looks alright to me.”

The doctors have heard the tale before from a thousand bodies, and they have listened less each time I have spoken of this ongoing saga. Perhaps my loss of ease causes them dis-ease and with each pain, empathy fades to professional frustration, irritation and dismissal. desensitized by repetition, they no longer care about the causes and offer their judgement with yet another prescription to ease the troubled mind because “he looks alright to me.”

It’s personal, it’s private, it’s public. Sometimes such companions appear on social media, ridiculed by some, disregarded by many and suffocated by gushing sympathy by others. Some choose to expose their pain, unashamed of their need for understanding and tolerance whilst others, whilst I, hide the constancy of pain, hide the shame of not being able to keep up with peers, do the jobs I seek to do; I seek solace in avoidance of those who judge because “he looks alright to me.”

The future remains bright despite the dis-ease, despite the sleeplessness, despite the need for pills, despite not being able-bodied, despite the frustration of not knowing why? The constancy of pain is an unwelcome, cruel companion that I know well, I have learnt to understand and which I control in the only ways I know. Few know of my companion, some have companions of their own, many stand in judgement, and state, “well, he looks alright to me.”

I hope you never have such an unruly companion. If you do, I will sense it, I will feel it, I will taste it in your essence. I will respect your need to share, I will respect your need for silence. I will support you if it is possible and I will never judge you as I know others do. The constancy of pain may never fade like the empathy of others often does. The constancy of pain, others choose not to see, the hurtful hearts of those who say “well, he looks alright to me.”

© Ian Hicken 2015

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