Why It's Healthy for Me to Be 'Selfish' Because of My Fibromyalgia

When I was first diagnosed, I attended all the social events I was invited to, stayed long hours, and paid for it for days. I cleaned my house, ran all errands, etc. I thought I was still Wonder Woman. It took me longer and longer to recuperate from trying to do all things for everyone else and myself.

Guilt played a big role in saying no to others, and in not setting boundaries and taking care of me. I did not want to accept that I had a lifelong illness. That I now had limitations. Would everyone stop calling if I did not attend events? Would people understand that I could not make plans anymore until the day of? Would they understand that it hurts me more to say no, than for them hear it? Who would listen to me? Did people want to hear about it? So many doubts and questions. I fooled myself and others into thinking I was well enough to take on the world, despite the diagnosis.

There were many years of horrible flares because I did not pace myself, because I did not say no, because I did not set boundaries. I had to readjust my responsibilities, set up reminders, calendars – move appointments around to balance everything out. I was not taking care of myself, and therefore, had to stop the world and see who stayed and who didn’t. Many did not.

They did not understand. Life has many lessons for us, and I learned the hard way. Those who truly care for us and understand that each day is different for us, that we hide behind our smiles, that we try our hardest to have as normal a life as we can, that we get lonely, we get depressed, we get scared. That we want to attend all events, without having to plan out every detail to see if it is possible.

In the last five years, I slowly learned to pace myself, listen to my body, and rest. I admit, I still have days when I think I am Wonder Woman, especially when I feel a little better I have learned that I can compromise with social events – I do not have to stay the whole time and I can find ways to enjoy myself without worrying about pain or fatigue. I can balance my responsibilities and find time for self-care. I can enjoy simpler things sometimes. I can say no without feeling guilty and know that I am doing what Is right for me.

Setting boundaries and learning to say no is not selfish, it is healthy. It has been one of the healthiest lessons I have learned. I try to always have a smile on my face and to help others, despite whatever fibromyalgia throws at me.

Getty Image by katiko-dp

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