Don’t ask me about Christmas. It was horrible. It was the last chance for my two younger sisters who usually show up at my parents’ for Christmas because I thought, well, it was Christmas, and surely they would try to include me at my parents’. No, they didn’t. Even my parents didn’t try, although I don’t want to get into it here. I left knowing, with prayer, that I have completely fulfilled my duty of attempting a relationship and I was free to remove myself from their lives at this point. It was a relief.
So, now I am free from that, but I look at the New Year with a different outlook than I did last year. First I’ll tell you about last year.
Entering into 2016 I started a journal and made a list of things I’d like to do every day of the year. This was inspired by the thought of “In a year I’ll wish I had started this today”, and also for the fact that, with the limitations of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I knew I’d have more done if I maybe had done a little bit a day, every day. It was less of a resolution than it was an intention. I was going for a sense of progress and accomplishment in my life, and this, I thought, would be a way of getting more done than I would otherwise.
Well, I was right. I began to learn Spanish and the violin, and was able to keep my housekeeping at a great level by doing a little every day, including pushing a little home repair/maintenance every day. I was also to read the Bible and exercise every day, among a few other things.
It all went well until late Spring when I pushed myself too hard doing yardwork (so much for doing ‘a little’ every day) and I came down with a week’s worth of fever. No other symptoms, just fever. I was recently tested with West Niles as my doctor suspected, but it was negative. I think my body was so full of inflammation from overdoing it that it shut down with fever trying to repair itself.
Did I learn my lesson? Yes, I sure did. That week of fever caused me to go into a relapse so deep and long that I’m still in it, and it also created increased symptoms to the point that I now have a co-diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I went from walking three to five miles a day with intermittent jogging to needing a cane to get up the stairs. My list of daily ‘dos’ became hit and miss as my capabilities permitted.
Here are my thoughts: I think, for me at least, that CFS may be linked to my childhood trauma of physical abuse and being unloved by a narcissist mother and uncaring family members. Whatever is the cause of CFS, perhaps I was primed to be more susceptible to it due to my constant physical hypervigilance and extreme anxiety. It’s like my body has already been pushed too far and had finally given out.
I do tend to push myself too hard, and always had. This comes from my never having learned to consider physical comfort and setting up boundaries to when something becomes physically painful. I didn’t think it was ‘right’ to consider how hard something was or how physically or mentally exhausted I was in doing something – the job just needed to be done, and as quickly as possible. It is so ingrained that even when I’ve told myself I can only do a little a day, my real inclination was to finish a job in one day, no matter how tired I was. Hence, the fever.
I have yet to make my list for this year as I found myself emotionally recovering from Christmas, and also because I feel hesitant due to not feeling confident anymore as to what I can manage. It does seem though that most likely I will stick to the same list, but be more wise about it this time. But I will add one more to this list this year: accept my limitations, every day, whether they be great or small. Because even on days when I can do very little, even that is the day the Lord has made for me.
I will learn that it’s okay to be in pain, and then say no to doing something for no other reason than that I am in pain. Maybe this is the year I see myself in this world a little differently.