The Pain Diaries: The Shyness From Chronic Illness

What Is Shyness?According to Psychology Today:

Shyness is a reflection of awkwardness or apprehension that some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. Shyness is a response to fear, and research suggests that although it reflects the neurobiology of the nervous system, it is also strongly influenced by parenting practices and life experiences. Unlike introverts, who feel energized by time alone, shy people often desperately want to connect with others, but don’t know how or can not tolerate the anxiety that comes with human interaction. The shy often experience low self-esteem, fear of rejection, or acute self-consciousness—which can prevent them from developing new relationships if they are perpetually turning inward to monitor their own behavior and perceived shortcomings.

I have no problem telling the entire world what is wrong with me. I don’t care about showing my most vulnerable side to complete strangers. I have no problem being real and raw about my life. As long as it comes without judgement and I feel even more compelled to show the dirty when it’s for advocacy and research.

But what I can’t do is knock this feeling that has started to fester inside me as my chronic illness made it’s mark in my life.

I’ve accepted the loneliness that chronic illness inevitably settles in for most who fight the illness and the loneliness.

I crave human interaction but it is often too painful for me and is physically draining. Chronic illness has also changed me from someone who was an extrovert to an introvert.

But what I can’t accept yet is let someone in, someone to see my pain. I let my son see it because he will never remember me without pain or fatigue and he only has one Mom, me. He is why I fight, what I put all my energy, love and money into.

Maybe it’s because family members decided to look the other way when things got too real and too difficult for me. It’s just chronic pain, everyone gets arthritis. It wasn’t just me they turned their back on, it was also my son. Maybe it was the emotionally neglected child crying for help but a product of a generation that ignored mental illness signs. She’s just being dramatic. She’s too young to have anything wrong with her.

Maybe it’s the hard exterior that everyone expects a fierce advocate covered in tattoos battling chronic pain to have. Looks are deceiving.

Maybe it’s remembering what my rockstar musician boyfriend said on our first date, how if he was ever with a woman who fell ill he would ditch them, especially if they became disabled. I remember loving him so much I put up with his bullshit until I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and became disabled.1 in 4 women in Canada are effected by a form of arthritis and it certainly care what age, good luck finding someone not affected at some point.

The older I get dating seems to become more difficult than ever. Maybe it’s the constant getting ghosted when I tell a guy why I don’t have a normal day job and I do part time freelance writing and patient advocacy.

Maybe it’s that guys see me for a girl with tattoos, not me for me, or they refuse to after I reveal the inside.

Maybe it’s the friends I’ve lost contact with or interests with because my life took such a massive turn I don’t even recognize who I was before.

I think of going out on dates, meeting new men because I get asked out a lot, which feels nice because when I was carrying extra weight and extra insecurities I often was invisible. I am instantly filled with anxiety every reason to not. I don’t respond to messages because I have nothing better to say than I feel like garbage, I am struggling with my health while raising a kid and reaching for the stars with my patient advocacy which most of the time unless the person is also ill they tend to look the other way.

Maybe it’s the ignorance of those who don’t live with chronic illness that sometimes it’s just easier being alone.

Time alone lets me rest and recharge, if that’s even possible with chronic fatigue. Being alone lets me focus on me, what my health needs. But being alone is lonely.

Published by Chronic Eileen

Rheumatoid arthritis advocate, writer and speaker.