Yesterday as I drove home from work, I started to think about this coldness and numbness that I have developed on an emotional level. I often question how I became this way and I know it is not just because of having fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis and living with pain nearly every day of my life. This new cold and numb me only recently came out within the last year or so. Quite often, I am impatient and curt without even realizing it. In the past, I was always polite and apologetic when I found myself even a bit hurtful or mean. These days, I just don’t want anyone to get in my way. It seems like I am running a hundred miles per hour and I expect everyone around me to do the same thing. There are times where I have to be told that I have overreacted or I have handled a matter in a not so polite manner before I realize I have done it. Granted, it is not intentional on my part as I am not mean or impolite person.
I read this article about a research study done by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. that found that people with rheumatoid arthritis appear to age faster than those without the disease which gives an explanation as to why people who suffer from the condition have shorter life spans. In addition to the five grey hairs I recently found (I am only 34), I just found out that because of RA, cells affected by the disease show signs of what’s called accelerated aging. This is damage at the molecular level. The researchers concluded that for every 10 years of chronological aging, people with RA physically age 11.4 years. Okay, maybe I am being bit a dramatic, but it was just one of those a-ha moments that made me realize that maybe life is too short and maybe, I have lost sight of who I am.
Like I said, it is not just the RA and the FMS that have changed me. It took two years of my common sense and patience to get out of the financial chaos that resulted when my husband made some bad investment decisions. I am not angry at my husband (I may have been in the beginning) because it could have gone either way. It is just that everything happened all at once – bad investments, a (surprise) pregnancy, and two medical diagnoses. All of these things sent me reeling in multiple directions and put my husband into a deep depression.
I obviously handled it better than my husband but I found myself angry and hurt. I went through all the “why me’s” and “what did I do to deserve this” routine over and over. The more I went through the routine, the more numb I became. I am not saying that I did not take action – I did. If I hadn’t, we would have lost our home and there were times where I wanted to walk away from my marriage because while I was picking up the pieces, my husband was pretending everything was normal. My husband and I have been together eight years and no one knows my husband better than I do, and to my husband, shutting things out, keeps him from falling apart. For me, distraction keeps me sane and in this case, distraction meant cleaning up the financial mess we were in.
Only recently has the chaos of my life calmed down, but coming out the wreckage, I can’t help but wonder how much I have changed and I wonder whether it is for better. I look at my children and wonder how much my diagnoses and my emotional state affect them. I know that children are more resilient than adults but sometimes, I wish that I could take back the last two years just so I can feel like they haven’t lost anything.
Mornings at my house are chaotic but this morning, I found my two little ones sleeping next to each other, my ten year old with his arm around his baby brother. They looked so peaceful and so beautiful that I did not want to wake them. I realized that this was my life and not the chaos outside my home – not my job, not my health, and not the outside world. For a moment, the world stood still and I loved it. Just for that moment, I forgot about the stresses of the morning – rushing out of the house, morning traffic on the way to my downtown job, and even the complexities of humanity – like war and earthquakes. For a moment, I remembered the most important role on play in this life – being a mother.