I believe the deck is usually stacked against folks with chronic illnesses, especially invisible illnesses. We find ourselves in a lifelong relationship with our unwanted friends; Loss, Pain, and Misunderstanding. It can feel like we unknowingly married Judge Me, and we are carrying on an affair with Dr. Feel-good. These fake friends, a made-up marriage and the false affair, walked into our lives and said, “We are here, and you belong to us.” We did not invite any of them, but they seem to come and go as they please. We can identify them, define them, and find their weaknesses.
Loss, Pain, and Misunderstanding are visitors in life but are not my friends. Loss has stolen my job, house, and independence. Pain has stolen my joy, well-being, and self-esteem. Misunderstanding ruins relationships and crushes our sense of worth. These are fake friends. They visit and basically just hang around creating chaos when they want to. But they each lack one common strength, power. Once we realize we have the ultimate power over these ill-fated, uninvited visitors, their control ceases to drive our daily lives.
Having power over Loss does not mean getting back all the things it stole. Power comes from re-building your life. Letting go of what no longer serves you and acquiring what does. Loss will visit from time to time, again uninvited, but it may not be permitted to stay. Build a better life, a life with meaning, a life worth living. Always regain your power … re-build, re-work it, and overcome.
Having power over Pain does not mean you will never experience pain. But when you experience it, you will deal with it accordingly. Pain doesn’t get to control you. Pain is an irrational 2-year-old. Your power is you are smarter than a 2-year-old. Your power is you will find what keeps Pain manageable, even at-bay for periods of time. Find what works for your pain and use it.
To have power over Misunderstanding requires empathy. You must put your feelings aside and try to feel what the other person is feeling. You must remember you have the power to not engage when Misunderstanding is being frivolous with your time and attention. Work at communication that is advantages to all parties involved. The “art of conversation” often goes unused when you focus all of your attention on a singular topic, namely fibromyalgia. If asked? Answer. If asked to explain? Then do so. Your power is to know your audience and greet them accordingly. (In other words, leave fibromyalgia at the door once in a while, it’s a big world with lots to talk about!)
My Marriage to Judge Me is a crock … I never agreed to be judged. In fact, I never asked for anyone’s permission to tell me how my life should or will be lived. I have never been re-directed as an adult as many times as I have once Fibromyalgia Syndrome became part of my life. There will always be people in your life who ‘want the best for you.’ (They truly do!) They will offer suggestions but when/if those suggestions do not work (because you do try them) you will be seen as non-compliant, lazy, and even a liar. But you are none of those things. You know your truth. You must be careful when asking for advice! Seek out the right avenues to share your successes and failures too. You just divorced Judge Me.
Now let’s address my supposed affair with Dr. Feel-good a.k.a. Medication. I have been on various medications for close to 20 years. It has never been easy to admit to being on medication. I feel weak for having to take medication! I feel ashamed to ask for medication. I just want the day to arrive when I no longer need medication. But it has taken me years to find the correct combination of medication. I can now function with a sense of normalcy. However, once I am functioning, I tend to second guess my medication choices. I occasionally rebel. I go off the medication that was firmly holding my place in the sanity line at the Fibromyalgia Mental Health Factory.
So you pick yourself up off the floor, stop the crying, and you start again. You realize medication is here to stay. Dr. Feel-good is not your lover. Reaching a feeling of normalcy is the dance … medication is just part of the music.
Live your best life!