The Prosperity Gospel and chasing cures

by liminalnest: For More Info, Go Here…

I used to believe that if I was good enough, my chronic pain would stop.

If I simply tried all the things random strangers recommended, maybe I would feel better. And so my life became a never-ending striving to be the kind of person chronic pain doesn’t happen to: I tried yoga, acupuncture, reiki, drum sound healing, meditation. I ate anti-inflammatory foods, gave up gluten for months, ate probiotics. I shopped at Whole Foods even though I couldn’t afford it.

I subscribed to toxic positivity, and tried to police my thoughts and banish negativity. I tried cognitive behavioral therapy. Mostly, I just felt guilty about still thinking negative things.

Nothing worked to magically banish my pain, because chronic pain is by its very nature… chronic.

As humans, we want to believe that problems have solutions. That there are answers and treatments, even cures, for chronic pain. And maybe there are, but we’re certainly not going to find them without a LOT of research funding.

How to explain the inexpressible suffering of chronic pain? The inevitable counterpart of chasing a cure is self blame. If I just tried harder, found the right foods to blend into a smoothie.

Or maybe, I’ve wondered, I brought this on myself. If fibromyalgia is partly due to trauma… maybe if I hadn’t been raped, maybe then I’d be pain free. I used to think this.

On my worst days, I still do.

Much of this can be traced back to the 19th century Prosperity Gospel, the idea that what happens to us on Earth is somehow an outward expression of our inner morality.

If you’re sick, you must somehow deserve it. If you’re not chronically ill, it must mean you’re a virtuous person.

These. Are. Traps.

It took me years of suffering to realize that I was asking the wrong questions. Instead of “how can I fix myself?”, I needed to be asking, “how can I live my best life with chronic pain?”

My friend with CRPS says, “My life may be the size of a teaspoon, but it’s mine.”

It’s helped. I’m less apologetic for who I am, and more forceful in asking for accommodations.

I’d like to pretend I’ve stopped chasing cures, but the possibility, the hope of relief is something I will probably never give up. Even though it’s exhausting. Even though I’m absolutely sick of medical tests, of trying new meds, of kale.

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