That is a question I’ve asked myself hundreds of times throughout the almost three decades of being in the Cycle of Suffering. Why continue? Why keep going? Why go to the doctor again? The only answer that has kept me going all these years is that I have to keep going, keep searching for help, and keep living because those who love me need me to.
I’ve felt worthless, burdensome, and down right parasitic most of my life. I’ve lived with family rent free all my life. I’ve never had a place of my own. I do help out where I can. I’m currently blogging and getting a podcast up and running. Needless to say this is a hobby more than a business. As a man its extremely difficult for me to reconcile being chronically ill and still feeling useful.
I’ve always thought that a man should be a protector and a provider. I can see why I don’t have a girlfriend or probably never will because I am neither of these things. I currently can’t even take care of myself and I’m doubled over in pain more often than I’m not. These are not traits that the opposite sex is looking for. I understand that. Unfortunately my biology still wants to have a mate, have kids, and pass on my genes. This emotional pain can make dealing with the chronic pain and everything that goes with it even more difficult.
Life produces life. Isn’t that why we are here? I know I’m not the only one who can’t have kids. Either it’s a physical issue with fertility or its secondary traits or behaviors that preclude them from passing on their genetic material. I am the reason why I’m unattractive to the opposite sex and why I don’t have kids and probably never will. For me it’s not a fertility issue but the secondary characteristics that make it highly unlikely I’ll ever have offspring.
If I’m not here to pass on my genetic material then why do I exist? What makes the suffering, the pain, the loneliness, the frustration, the humiliation, the loss of control, the loss of organs, the surgeries, the medical bills, the hospitalizations worth while? For me it boils down to those I love. I’ve been very close before many times of choosing not to continue but I’ve always come back to the fact that those who love me, need me to.
Even if I’m not a provider, protector or a procreator for anyone I can still be of value. I can still listen to someone, I can be easy to be around, I can help others laugh, I can give someone a hug, I can read them a story, I can smile at someone instead of frown, or share some helpful information. The pain is building again. Every breath hurts. I can tell I’m holding my breath more to try and lessen the pain. It doesn’t help. I will not give up or give in. I’ll continue to go to the doctor, I’ll keep making healthier choices, I’ll keep going because that’s my only option, I’ll keep going because my family loves me, I’ll keep going because the pain doesn’t define who I am, I’ll keep going because I want to see my nephews and nieces grow up, I’ll keep going because life can get better, I’ll keep going because I want to own a tiny house and travel the country, I’ll keep going because I want to interview people who are going through the same thing and help them share their stories on my podcast, I’ll keep going because I can choose to define what it means to be successful man for myself.
For me being a man is about being an individual and choosing to judge myself by criteria I choose and not by the values of others who have no idea what I’ve gone through or what I continue to suffer with. It’s not about what I have or what I haven’t accomplished yet.