The Millions

On Saying: Finding the Language to Describe Chronic Pain

1.
I’ve always been wary of oversharing with my husband. I often tell my friends my news before I tell him. I base this on something I read a long time ago that stuck in me, something about keeping boundaries with the people you love so as not to overrun their love with too much knowing, to keep the relationship exciting—some Esther Perel shit that I can’t actually source in her book. (I have that book at my bedside, but let’s be real; I never actually read it. My husband did and I asked him to summarize.) Anyway, I tweaked it in some weird way in my mind to mean never tell your partner about your life.

When my doctor tells me about the endometriosis, I don’t tell my husband for a few days. A weekend passes and at the end of it I tell him on the couch on Sunday night, and he leaps up—“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?”—alarmed and gripping my hands. I stand awkwardly with him and say, “I’m telling you now.” But it’s the wrong time, I see, and I’ve been somehow disloyal by not doing it in time.

“Who else knows?” he asks; then, shaking his head before I can answer: “You never tell me anything.”

But I don’t know how to tell. Or how to tell him what I think he wants to know, at least—what I think my friends and my family want to know—that I am cured, am on the road to being better, or, at the very least, have good information about my condition. What to

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