Thoughts on Health… Fibromyalgia

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When you follow your bliss, doors open where you would not have thought

there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door

for anyone else. – Joseph Campbell

This one is personal.

I carry all of my tension in my neck and shoulders. Painful trigger points, tension headaches, tenderness in my upper back and neck so strong that at times I can’t even wear a bathing suit or a sports bra or a ponytail, or anything pulling on my neck at all… sometimes, even a necklace is too much, has me on my knees begging for mercy.

I think I could fit the definition for fibromyalgia, but I’m not double checking. Because one thing I don’t want, is a label. I don’t want to lump my energy in with the morphic field of “fibromyalgia”… I prefer just to think of it as where I carry my tension. As my own personal barometer of stress. An alarm that signals when I need to slow-it-dowwwwnnnnn.

I really feel that people with fibromyalgia, as with many other diseases, including peripheral neuropathies and restless leg syndrome and RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), are able to feel sensory input more acutely. That’s why nerve stabilizing drugs help, by desensitizing and diminishing the nerve’s sensory capability.

But I don’t think it means that folks with fibromyalgia necessarily have more stress… just that they are more sensitive to perceiving it. Just like my husband can eat super spicy salsa and say it is “flavorful” and tastes good, while one tiny dab of it on my tongue has my lips burning off, my eyes tearing up, and my throat burning. It ruins my whole meal. But who is right — is the salsa spicy, or is it not spicy? The salsa just is. It is our perception that makes it spicy or not spicy. To Craig, it’s not spicy. To me, it is unbearable.

So when my back starts flaring… do I have more tension in my shoulders then someone who doesn’t feel any back pain? Who cares. What matters is, that I can *percieve* my shoulder tension acutely and it is telling me something. Seen in this light, isn’t my sensitivity a gift? A blessing? That I can sense, earlier then others, when my body is stressing out?

Yes, I believe it is. Because I know *right away* when I need to take care of myself… I don’t bottle it up and ignore it and wait for it to manifest in a more serious disease before I will take notice. I know moment by moment, just by running my hand across the back of my neck, how I am doing with my attitude.

“We make life a burden by our attitude.” – Louise Hay

This is so very true with me, and I suspect a lot of folks with hypersensitivity issues, like fibromyalgia. My shoulders are my own personal indicator of how much strain I am feeling. And the strain I am feeling is all created by my attitude. Thoughts start to creep in, when my trigger points start to flare… thoughts like “I’m the one who does all the chores, all the cooking, all the cleaning, I don’t get enough time to myself, I haven’t even brushed my teeth today, all I’ve done is care for everyone else, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I’m boring myself even typing it out.

But in the moment… oh, in the moment… that is my deepest *truth*… my shoulders are screaming out “WHAT ABOUT ME?!?!?” and it’s like a slap across the face. Wake up! What am I doing?!? Chores… they are privileges… privileges for sharing my home with the three most amazing souls I have ever met. And you know what? If I don’t want to do them, I shouldn’t. Nobody has to do anything. You don’t *have* to. Do you know that? You don’t even *have* to breathe. Breathing, living, being… they are all a gift. The moment you don’t feel that you *have* to do anything is the moment you will start wanting to do all the things you were resisting. You don’t have to do chores… deep inside, you want to. You choose to.

So I don’t have to become the martyr… it is my choice. It always has been my choice. Every thing I’ve ever done has been a choice. The fact is, I am the luckiest woman alive… and the very moment that I stop feeling that way, my shoulders remind me.

The path out from under my shoulder pain is simple.

First, I re-align with what I *know* to be true. I am blessed beyond belief. And I don’t have to do it all. I don’t have to do anything. I stop. And I wait until I *want* to do something before I do it, instead of doing things I don’t want to be doing, and then blaming everyone else.

I re-focus on my bliss… on what makes me happy. When I have trigger points, what makes me happy is usually having my husband push on my shoulders to help break them up. And then I take some extra fish oil. And some tryptophan and melatonin so I’m sure to get an excellent night’s sleep. And if I’m smart, I’ll do some yoga, stretch out my neck.

And sure enough, as I focus on my bliss, my relief, my joy… I find 101 other things to be thankful for. They just line up for me… hitting me over the head with my reality. Life is neither a burden nor a blessing… it’s our attitude that makes it so. Salsa is neither spicy nor mild… it’s our perception of it that makes it so.

So I see that door, with music and light and joy and laughter just beyond. And I get to decide which side of the door to stand on. Sometimes, it feels like the door is locked and I can’t get in. In those moments, I stop the struggle. I stand there for a moment in time, an eternity, a blink, it doesn’t matter… I close my eyes and I listen to the music through the door. Even if that is all I can do for that moment. Even if listening to the music is the only thing I can access… even if I feel my muscle fatigue and pain locking me into a dark room.

Close my eyes… I can still hear the music. Neither resisting the muscle pain nor focusing on it, I am okay. I am content. I am thankful for my messenger… my pain. Telling me to stop for now. I am okay, I’ve done enough. It’s saying thank you to me… it’s telling me I’ve done enough and I can pause now. I have the ability to allow *all* my experiences to be joyful and satisfying, even if all I can do is survive the moment. Even if all I can do is lay there and listen. I don’t have to fight it. It is enough to just BE.

And soon enough, my mind has wandered. Off of my shoulder discomfort and on to other things. The curious and the optimistic in me has re-awoken. The music has my toes tapping. I don’t *have* to stand back up and face the music, the chores, the life that is waiting for me… I *want* to. I’ve reached for the doorknob and opened the door and I am stepping back into the party. This is why I’ve come! This is the ride I’m on, and I’m committed to it. I’m not holding back, judging it, wishing for something else… I’m allowing the experience of it to be okay just the way it is.

Is my fibromyalgia a blessing or a disease? It’s up to me to decide. xoxo