Do you ever have days when nothing feels comfortable? THAT DAY IS TODAY.
Everything feels wrong. And I’m trying not to freak out about it. But I feel the anxiety and discomfort bubbling in my stomach. I needed to write about it before I implode while I’m at work.
Stupid jeans don’t fit right. Stupid shoes make my feet hot. Stupid bra feels like pins and needles. Stupid hair is staticky and in my face. Ahhhh. I’ve found that with fibro (or whatever I have), there are some days when NOTHING feels right or comfortable, and that’s how today is. Every clothing fiber, every hem, everything is literally rubbing me the wrong way.
I woke up swollen everywhere, and I thought, “Could I pull off wearing jeans today?” Then I saw it was snowing out and figured dresses and skirts were out, unless I had clean leggings to wear, which I don’t. Sigh. I thought just maybe I might be able to wear jeans to work like a normal person, but here I am wiggling and writhing because of how uncomfortable they are. I can’t handle being in them for more than a couple hours. Makes me feel like a crazy person. Is it too much to ask that my body not be so sensitive?! Is it too much to ask that I be able to wear jeans like everybody else? That I feel physically comfortable in my own body (and let’s not even start on how I feel emotionally and psychologically about my body)?
And now my blouse is staticky and clinging to my skin, and it’s clinging to all the wrong areas.
I am hungry, but I can only eat veggies for lunch, and so far this darn diet has done nothing to help my symptoms—not even my stomach pain! So I’m not even looking forward to lunch because that’s what I have eaten every day this week, and it’s cold and snowy out, and it’d be This stupid diet
I am just right on the edge of having a panic attack, and I hate this feeling. Ugh.
I just want to take off this stupid bra that feels like sandpaper, throw on my yoga pants and giant hoodie, drink a nice warm (dairy-free) latte, and read a good book.
There’s a song that the Christian radio station in my area used to play all the time, and my husband and I almost always switched the stations when it would come on. Apart from simply not liking the song, we also had an issue with what it communicated (though the lyrics and message are well-intentioned, I’m sure).
The song is “He Said” by Group 1 Crew. It’s the chorus that gets to me:
He said, ‘I won’t give you more, more than you can take, and I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break… .’
It bothers me because it hits on a very common and harmful misconception that so many of us believe: that God won’t let us hurt or break or suffer, or that he won’t give us more than we can handle in this life. To be honest, I would like to see what Scripture is used to back up this idea (comment if you know of any). What really gets me about the song in particular, though, is that it says to remember “what he said” (he being Jesus), and I just don’t know that Jesus actually ever said any close to what this song says he does.
I think it all stems from a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states that no temptation will seize us that we cannot handle, and that God will always provide us a way out to stand up underneath temptations we face:
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
We know this verse to be true. We know that God will equip us to withstand temptation. But temptation and suffering are very different, and it’s important that we acknowledge that.
I thought about not posting this after I spent all this time writing it. But I posted it anyway because I wasn’t sure what else to do with it. Maybe someone out there who reads it will identify with it. Maybe it will make someone feel less alone, less crazy, less defective. Or maybe it’s just for me, that’s totally fine, too. I’m sorry it’s so long.
Cymbalta sucks. Well. Withdrawals from Cymbalta suck.
One second, I feel totally fine and normal.
Then I’m nauseous and dizzy and feverish and shaky.
Then I’m fine.
Then I’m sobbing because Nick’s dirty socks are on the floor.
You know what’s odd?
I’m sick a lot. Anyone who has briefly followed my blogs knows that’s the case. Anyone who has spent a short amount of time with me out in the real world knows that. So that’s not what’s odd.
And yet, the simple, common process of occasionally calling in sick to work makes me feel like a lousy human being, like I’m failing myself, my coworkers, the customers we serve. Like the world is going to resent me for some reason. Or that they’ll think that I’m not actually sick. Or that I’m being a wimp. (And even if any of those things were true, why would it matter anyway?)
I called in sick today, and I texted my immediate supervisor to let her know. Another one of the ladies at work has been fighting something, and she’s gone home early, but she doesn’t like not getting paid (haha), so she just works through feeling lousy, and that’s cool. But now I’m wondering—since I caught what she had and called in for it, maybe they just think I’m a big baby or something. And I only think that because she didn’t text me back or anything, and she usually does. I never got a call or anything, so I assumed she got my text and such… But I just felt like I pissed her off or something, but hey, I was sick, and even if I might have been able to get up and push through it, why should I have to just because I feel guilty? Why do I take on this obnoxious guilt for feeling sick enough to call in?
Blargh. Sometimes I don’t understand myself. I even feel anxious about going in to work today because I’m afraid they’ll act all weird just because I called in. Is that weird?
I have a chronic illness. They know that. They know I’m going to call in from time to time. So am I just being overly anxious about this? Probably. Gah, make anxiety go away. It’s annoying.
Guys, I’m going to a karaoke bar place thing with friends. Because apparently to keep friends you have to spend time with them and stuff?
But I don’t go out on week nights.
And I don’t go to karaoke bar place things.
And I don’t sing karaoke.
And I don’t go out on week nights.
What am I doing I should just go to bed and never go out in public ever again and quit my job and just read books and drink wine and crochet and sometimes talk to husband and mostly cuddle with my cats.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
It’s not news that I struggle with anxiety. It’s not news that I get afraid.
On Wednesday, the youth group I help out with went over the above passage from Joshua, and at first, I just shrugged it off with an, “Oh yeah, I know this one,” attitude. Little did I know that “fear” would be the theme of my week.
I was asked to lead worship this past Sunday (and next Sunday) at church while our regular worship leader is on vacation with his family. I was really excited and said yes. I wasn’t nervous at all for a while, but then I got sick, I lost my job, I got stressed out and tired, and suddenly, it was Saturday night and I was terrified—not of singing in front of people, because that’s easy enough for me—but of leading the team well. All these negative, fearful thoughts took over. I lost all the joy and excitement I’d had about the opportunity.
Would I be prepared enough? Would I be able to communicate to them how the song should sound? Will I be energetic and positive, or will it be obvious that I’m sick, tired, and nervous? Will they think I’m incompetent? Will they mentally judge me for my youth and inexperience? Will they be annoyed at the way I lead rehearsal? What if the fact that I don’t play an instrument totally ruins my credibility? Will they like me? Will I meet everyone’s expectations or let everyone down? If a musician messes up, is it because I failed as a leader?
All that fear I experienced can be traced back to my pride. I was terribly focused on me and what others thought of me and my abilities. I should have been praying and seeking the Lord. I should have focused on his purposes and intentions in giving me this opportunity. I should have read the Word. I needed to realize that whether I “led well” was less important than whether I served well.
So after rehearsal Sunday morning—which probably went well enough, but I found to be stressful and discouraging—we had a few minutes before service started, and I sat myself down and asked God to clear my head. I told myself it was only Him and me, that nobody else mattered. I asked him to take away my anxiety, to calm my nerves, to take away my selfish need for approval. I surrendered my obsession with people-pleasing. I asked him to make it all about Him, to fill up the room so much that it was no longer a bunch of people on stage singing and playing, but an encounter with the Divine.
And the set went well. It wasn’t perfect. My voice wasn’t at its strongest. I couldn’t always tell if I was on key because I was sick. I even messed up a couple lyrics. But I didn’t let fear or anxiety cripple me. I let the mistakes go; I lifted my eyes. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter because I was serving others and worshiping God.
If I had let fear and pride take complete control, I would have run away from what God had in store for me. I almost did, and I would have missed an opportunity to serve, to lead, to worship God, to experience His peace and presence, to use the gifts He gave me. Or maybe I would have stayed and had horrible experience. Maybe I wouldn’t have let God work in my heart and in the situation, and I wouldn’t be looking forward to leading again next Sunday. Fear takes away the privilege and opportunity we have to do great things for God. Fear is not of God; He has commanded us to fear not and trust in His faithfulness. He is a big God, and He can cover even the most giant of fears and anxieties.
I am full to the brim with insecurities. Perhaps you can’t tell. Perhaps pride is an elegant mask.
But they are there, subversive and pregnant with poisonous stings. Perhaps I could say, considering their sinister and hidden nature, “Deep down, I have insecurities,” but that would not be true. You see, my insecurities run no deeper than the first layer of skin on my face or the depth of river water during drought. If my insecurities were to dwell deep down, it wouldn’t be so easy for them to rear their heads, to wreak havoc on my heart, to feed me insults, to cripple my forward motion. If my insecurities ran deep, they would not be so quick to incapacitate me. As it so happens, they settle in all depths of my existence, and thus often have very little distance to cover in their pursuit of controlling my thoughts and emotions.
No, my insecurities do not only run deep. They were in my fingertips when I gave up on piano, my feet when I quit dance. They are in my stomach, my arms, my skin, my freckles, my hair follicles. They are shallow, as well, and ever-present, easily accessible. In fact, sometimes I have to work to keep them hidden. They come from no where and everywhere. They hide in my pillow and creep into my dreams. They make their homes on the surface and in the crevices of who I am. Some live in my mind; the nastiest call my heart home, and even some sleep in my spirit.
They nag at me. They tell me I am foolish for trying. They tell me that my friends think I’m a waste of time. They whisper that I’m unworthy, disliked, awkward, stupid, incapable, unloveable. They tell me that no matter how hard I try, I will always be pale, vapid, and ugly—that people will never find me appealing. They tell me the safe bet is to prepare for rejection or to just relent on trying anything at all.
When I open my mouth, they muddle my words and tell me I should never speak again. When I walk out my door, they tell me I’m better off inside away from the rest of the world. When I am with loved ones, they sneer that the world is better off without me. I will never suffice, let alone succeed.
If I speak, they say I spoke too much. If I try, they say I tried too hard. If I run, they say I should have walked. If I walk, they say I should have run. If I sing, they say I sang too loud. If I’m right, they say I’m wrong. If I’m wrong, they say I’m foolish.
They tell me I should remain anonymous, that I need to hide myself from the world so I don’t humiliate myself. Why should I be known by anyone? I am unwanted. The anxiety steals my breath and causes my muscles to quiver. Shall I surrender to a life inside myself, kept in tact by the insecurities coursing through my veins and circulating in and out of my lungs? Shall I hide from the world who I truly am? Should I remain silent, anonymous, unknown because I am afraid? Have I nothing to offer?
Or should I speak, try, run, walk, sing, be right, and be wrong even if I am rejected? Life is a limb, and I am on it. Shall I stay here, basking in the light of who I am, or will I retreat deeper into the forest? Am I worth knowing?
At some point, I shall tell the insecurities that I am no longer in need their counsel. I will vanquish them for good.
Until then, I am on a limb called life, and I speak, try, run, walk, sing. I am right and I am wrong. But I am known.
May 12th is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Who knew? :)
I want people to know about it. That’s why I blog about it, about how I feel, about my good and bad days.
I talk about it a lot. It’s part of my life. It’s my every day.
But even as I talk about having fibromyalgia, I feel this tension inside of me—like I’m doing something wrong, awkward, or socially unacceptable. Half of me wants the world to know and the other half of me says to stop talking about it because of what people might think. Am I being a downer? Does it seem like I’m trying to get attention? Are people annoyed? Will they think I’m being dramatic or whiny? Or will they invalidate it? Will they be annoyed? I appreciate it when people ask me what having fibromyalgia is like, but my body tenses up because of the myriad of reactions I’ve received. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the question that I can’t even speak straight.
Because I’m afraid of what my words might stir up. The disbelief. The annoyance. The pity. The blank stares. The laughs. The “it’s all in your heads.” The proverbial “mind over matter” pep talks. The abrupt, obvious change in subject. The blatant silence or the uncomfortable verbosity. I never know what people are thinking, so I cover the pain with a tone dripping with any amount of optimism I can muster. But I don’t want to have to explain the symptoms in a peppy, “but it’s all good/it could be worse” attitude anymore. I want people to see the realness of what fibromyalgia sufferers go through without the disbelief, without the “attention-seeker” accusations, and without the awkwardness.
Here’s the thing: people talk about the life they live. Well, fibromyaliga is a huge part of the life I live. It’s on my mind every day. I think about how it’s changed me every day. That’s why I want people to know what fibromyalgia is in the same way I want people to know who I am. I am not my fibromyalgia, but it has made me who I am. I don’t want pity or feigned sympathy or even unnecessary attention. I just want people to get a glimpse into why I am who I am.
That’s why raising awareness is important to me. And that’s why I talk about it, even when it scares me and even if no one wants to hear it.
I really hope we can get some things in order, but I always get so nervous before going to see a doctor. I always feel so young, uneducated, overwhelmed, and ignorant about my own body, you know? It’s like, I have all these symptoms and questions and concerns about this organic machine that I don’t understand even though I live with it every day, and my brain turns to mud when I try to talk to the doctor about it.