It has been several years since my battle with chronic pain from both rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia began. In that time, I struggled between regret and acceptance and it has been back and forth thing. I struggled with my inability to do all the things I once could and what it means to be a good mother. I have struggled with the relationships in my life and I have grown from this experience. I have had moments where I have been proud of myself and moments where I have felt ashamed. Over the past year years, my pain levels have gone from well-managed to widespread or difficult to manage and sometimes, just sometimes, I have days where my pain levels are low. More often than not, the pain has invaded every aspect of my life.
There are times where I think that the pain is leaving me and other times where I think it many never leave. It has been an uninvited houseguest in my home. It arrived without as much as a warning. It has been intrusive and it has wreaked havoc on my parenting as well my relationships, both personal and professional. Moreover, it has undone my life, taken it over and has no plans to leave. In the beginning, it felt like my diagnoses were some kind of personal agenda affecting me only but over time, I have learned that I am not the only one affected.
Most people in my life know that I don’t complain about the effect that RA and fibromyalgia have had on me and even how they affect me daily. Usually when I talk about the effect that they have had on my life, I reserve that for my blog and I always try to find the lesson learned. I have learned that even though I cannot always have a positive attitude, I should try. I have my pity parties and I have been having them a lot lately. Lately, I have been dealing with some issues that have been out of my control and while I am strong enough to handle them, my health has worn me down. Sometimes, I wonder if I can continue to make my way in the world with chronic illness. So far I have been able to do it but sometimes, I feel discouraged – due to how I am feeling physically or how others make me feel.
With all that has been going on, the pity parties have been small but they have been coming more than usual. I have tried to be strong but lately my breaking point has been coming on pretty quick. I am overwhelmed by all that life has thrown at me in addition to my responsibilities. I cannot help but feel guilty and sad – guilty because I cannot always hold it together for my kids and sad because I wish things were easier for them and me.
I remind myself that I have been fortunate with the family and friends who stuck around despite my illnesses and despite my inability to be the person I was before. I don’t really look back anymore at the ones that walked away, that saw me as lazy or that felt like I used being sick as an excuse. It is hard though to look back at what you have lost and the people that have walked away. I am reminded that they saw me a sick person rather than someone who loves passionately and works hard despite the obstacles that come her way. I am saddened by what being chronically ill has taken from me but mostly I saddened by the people who think being chronically ill means that I am not enough for them. I think the last thing is what has brought me down the most.
One of the things I have been blessed is the ability to reach out to others. Of all things that RA and fibromyalgia have taken, they have not taken from me my ability to show compassion and kindness. I am glad that I can still find ways to help others and allow others a voice when they are not able to speak. I blog and advocate because I hope that others can relate and that my words can help them can to come terms with the struggles of chronic illness including heartache and pain.
Despite my pity parties of late, I know that pity parties are important. We need them and when we talk about them, we find that we are not alone in having them. The fact is life is not fair and no one ever said it was. I have learned that we are not all dealt the same hand in life and sometimes, it helps to help your emotions out in other to find ways to cope. A fulfilling life is something that takes work and sometimes, we have to revisit our pity to be reminded that we have to constantly be working to figure how to make our lives worth living.