The Joy I Find in the Midst of My Needed Fibromyalgia Resting Days
It hit me as I struggled over the stones and sand of the beach path on my way back to the car, “Hey – I just did this without thinking. I went to the beach with my family.”
A year ago this wouldn’t have happened. An evening at the beach has always been one of my favorite things about living in this area. The sky is a particular color, and the breeze and waves are so peaceful that it brings, at the risk of sounding corny, a special kind of peace. I love to find a washed-in log to lean against and sit with my mug of tea and gaze out at the water.
But a year ago, the thought of walking from the parking lot, along that rocky path, through the sand, to the water’s edge was more than I could fathom. My feet were excruciating and my limbs felt weighted down by sand bags. I would wave off my family and go sit on the couch.
Over the past year, I ruthlessly cut back my activity level. I really looked at my life and judged everything I did. I decided what was critical and what could be let go. I looked at what gave me joy and what caused me stress. I looked at activities that I loved, but caused me to become exhausted, and I weighed the value versus the cost. And I cut and I cut.
Much of the past year was spent on the couch, reading, watching television, thinking, resting, googling. I felt at times restless, frustrated, bored. I mourned my lost life. I raged against the future I wouldn’t have. I searched for crafts, hobbies, and activities that might fill the gap. I’ve tried a lot of things and abandoned almost as many.
And I’ve questioned and doubted myself. Am I really this sick? Should I be trying harder to just push through it? Should I be taking on more? What is my value as a person if I don’t achieve a career? What is my value as a person if I don’t have great accomplishments to hold up to my children as a model? What is my purpose on this earth?
And then I went to the beach with my family and I saw the value – that little by little I am managing the pain, doing a little more, being more joyful. That in resting I am saving myself for the beautiful moments. That in saving my energy I am able to give of myself where it’s needed most. That in cutting away all the busyness in life, I am focussing my energy on living fully in those moments when I am at my best.
I don’t love this disease and I’d dearly love for someone to find a cure. But, once you push past the fear and the pain, there are blessings to be found. My life has been pared down to those things that I hold closest to my core – those things that are essentially me. I’m holding close the ideas, thoughts, people and activities that make me who I am. Within this frame of fibromyalgia, I am becoming what I am, and little by little I’m letting go of that person that I think I should be. There is so much joy in discovering that I quite like that person, and that it really is just grand to be exactly as I am.
And that is a gift.
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