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Why I Push Myself to Make More 'Spoons' When I Don't Have the Energy

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We only get so many.

And I am a restless person, left ever-searching for more spoons.

My mind reminds me of all the things I set to accomplish while my body says no.

You’ve run out of spoons.

For anyone new to fibromyalgia and the story of the spoons, here’s the quick version:

“…when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of ‘spoons.’ But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many ‘spoons’ you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet.”

So you see, I have to choose. Fibromyalgia makes me choose.

And I often argue with that choice… almost every time I have to make it.

What it often comes down to then is whether or not I can have the really clean home I’d like, or whether or not to eat a good dinner, do the dishes, and write after work. Exercise? Rest? Read? Most days I can do at least one of these things, other days I can do them all.

Every day I want to do them all.

But any social activity is also a direct competitor for time and energy, which means I let people down sometimes. Sometimes, a lot more often than I know is OK. I wrestle with this.

I wrestle with what this means about what these relationships will look like in the future. I wrestle with not knowing how many spoons I could realistically dedicate to a family. A baby.

I understand how hard it can be to understand this. Some days I have more spoons than others. I’m vibrant and awake. Alert. These are the days we all forget about fibro. These are the days I feel best. I think of taking the next steps in my life, adding more responsibility, expanding my social network.

But then there are the days I can’t. The days I hate admitting I have. Days where there are not nearly enough spoons.

Days where my body decides to be in pain and my mind decides to complain. Days I go quiet. Sometimes silent. All I can do is focus on work. It is my number one priority. It’s my life-line and love.

So I do my best to balance the needs and wants with what I feel is most important.

And I push for more spoons… sometimes to my own detriment.

You see, the theory holds: We only get so many spoons.

But on very rare days there seems to exist a very little loop hole.

I muster it in me to make metal. More spoons smelted together from the depths of my desires. The energy to do this is the last I have.

But now there are overdraft spoons. Spoons I’ll use today and pay for later — with interest.

I won’t just be tired. I’ll feel the heaviness wash over my body as I do whatever it is that’s on my list. Whatever was this important.

The pain spreading like lighting up my legs and down my arms. Neck stiffening.

I’ve set something off by making metal. And I’m not surprised.

A storm sets in.

Maybe for a few hours, maybe a few days. It depends on what I’ve let myself do to myself this time. I’m proud of the pain of pushing myself further than I should. I hate having limits. Even though I know that’s crazy.

I shouldn’t push it. I should rest. I should just learn to live with less.

But that’s the problem with spoons. I know what it’s like to have more.

I feel entitled and attached to the spoons I was once given, although I’m a little embarrassed to admit it. No one promises you the same amount of spoons for life.

And on the one hand, it just seems petty. Just let it go, adjust, deal. You can still do it all. Have it all. It just looks a little different. You’re just going to have to work a little harder for it. To keep it.

So on the other hand, it seems ambitious and positive to strive and yearn for more. It means I’m still alive inside here, wanting, dreaming.

Some days, this is the only way I meet my goals: with borrowed spoons. This is the problem with spoons.

You see, all lenders have their limits. I can’t keep mustering metal into spoons at this rate. In this way. I know this.

And since you’re reading this, I’d venture to say there’s a chance you know this about yourself, too, whether you have fibromyalgia or not. We all have limits.

I think the only way to handle this issue with spoons is to consider what really, truly matters to you. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what matters to you most?

This is what you keep in your mind during those more difficult days. This is what guides your daily decisions, making them easier and easier because they are focused around priorities.

This is what makes sense to spend spoons on.

And I bet it’s not the laundry. Or the dishes. Or the shine on floors.

Originally published: September 19, 2016
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