In all honesty, I am terrified. Living with a degenerative, neuro-muscular illness has me frightened that the day may come when I cannot take care of my children and eventually not even myself. This winter has been particularly harsh for me, and I pray that once summer comes my symptoms will relax a little. These last couple of weeks in particular have been some of the worst, if not the worst I have ever had with my Fibromyalgia. My flare-ups and attacks have been occurring with more frequency, severity, and duration, and seem to be triggered by less than they used to be. The worst of it all, though, is self-inflicted mental misery.
Being the middle of seven children, one lesson I learned in my youth was to not let myself compare my accomplishments to those of my siblings. To this day, when I look sideways instead of inwards I hear a little voice in my head telling me not to...the voice sounds oddly like my father, though it should probably sound as much like my mother as it does him. When learning this lesson, though, it involved not thinking others had done better things or were in a better position. Now, it is more the opposite viewing that is plaguing me. I have a hard time not looking at those worse off and berating myself for feeling poorly or for wanting help with simple things when so-and-so *clearly* has more need than I do. For example, my sister also has Fibromyalgia, and she literally has three times the number of children that I have, with another on the way. How dare I feel bad when she has so much more to deal with than I do? There is that other voice in my head saying I need to just offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory (the more polite, Catholic version of "suck it up") and this voice definitely sounds like my mom!
Remember Christ saying not to worry about the sins of others when we ourselves have sin? This also ties in, in that I *know* I should not be comparing myself to others, good or bad. Then there is the story of the man who asked Christ to take away his cross, for he felt he could not handle it any more. Christ did, but told the man he would have to choose a new cross to bear to replace the old. Christ led the man to a room where there were countless crosses to choose from, but they all seemed so enormous! Finally, after searching the room, the man spies a small cross hidden in the corner. He gladly picks it up and told the Lord that that was the one he wanted. Christ smiled and told the man that he had chosen to take back the cross he only moments before had wanted to shed. "For we know not the burdens that others must bear." Each of us has unique gifts and graces that help us to carry our crosses, and none of us could bear another's burdens.
I have always been a "glass is half full" type of person, but sometimes that, too, can be burdensome. Those of you who also fall into that category know that part of why we are like that is to counter-balance all the negativity out there, even when we are feeling a little negative ourselves, sometimes we put on a good face for the sake of the world. I think we also do this because we don't want to hear all the "half empty" types saying "I told you so!". That, and no one wants to listen to a whiner. I don't like hearing my kids whine and complain, and I am pretty sure no one else needs or wants to hear me feeling down about my illness. So what happens? It gets bottled up, and eventually that bottle bursts.
My bottle burst last night, after developing a small leak. I was so tired of not voicing my fears and concerns because I felt guilty in doing so. What about me??? Am I not allowed to worry about myself? Am I not allowed to be afraid? Mike was working last night, but thanks to modern technology, I sent him a nice, long, text; finally revealing to him some of what I was feeling. The tears started flowing, and wouldn't stop. I thought about calling my mommy, but decided against it since her local time was only 4am at that point. A friend popped into my head, and I wrote her a message via Facebook. A virtual, long-distance cry on the should of a friend can be nearly as good as doing it in person. While this made me feel better because I know she is a prayer warrior and will fight for the good of my soul, I still felt that something was incomplete in my purging of negativity. I sat there sobbing, in my bed, and begged Jesus and His Blessed Mother to help me deal with this, because I just felt like I couldn't handle it any more. Seriously, within moments of laying it all at Jesus' feet, I felt a calm come over me. I decided to say a Rosary, focusing on the Glorious Mysteries. How appropriate it felt, to think about rebirth after horrible pain and torture; about Christ heading to Heaven to wait for us there; about God granting us the aid of the Holy Spirit in all our endeavors; about being welcomed home to Heaven after life-time of work; and finally, upon arrival, being rewarded with our own crown in Heaven.
Through all of this, I decided that I needed to share this with others; if for nothing else so as not to poison my own thoughts by keeping it all bottled up. Besides the risk of having the bottle break, when you keep everything in there and don't let it air out, it becomes toxic. I wasn't sure I would actually go through with it, though, because there have been so many times when I thought something was a good idea when I was contemplating it at night and by morning it did *not* sound like a good idea any more, but I decided it would be therapeutic for me. I do not intend to administer my own therapy too often; like I said, no one wants to listen to a whiner, but I figure that every once in a while, I may need to pour a little out of the bottle so it doesn't explode again.