Becoming Your Own Best Advocate

I’ll admit that I’ve been pushing too hard physically over the past several weeks and even though I have felt it creeping up on me, I have kept pushing. Not as much as old me would have, but way more than should have been. Yesterday was a really rough day physically for me, but there was something which I had promised to do for someone, so that’s what I did. It was not physically challenging in the least, thank goodness! No, I’m not going to discuss what it was because I do not find it necessary to do so…for several reasons. Just know that it was very important and that I do not regret keeping my promise.

After spending the day doing what I needed to do, there was nothing that I wanted more than to go home and crawl into bed. Instead of that happening, there was a situation which arose. I faced remarks which belittled my health issues. A person said to me that they did not want to see me spend a whole day resting in bed…in a disparaging tone. When I asked why, this was the answer. “Because it just isn’t a good thing to do. Lying in bed makes me hurt even worse. It’s better to be up and doing something”. I am proud to admit that at least in this instance I found the middle ground between smiling and saying nothing (haven’t done that for a good, long while) and blowing up. Here was my response:

“See, these are the sort of remarks that really piss me off. People, especially ones who should know better, who like to ignore the fact that there is anything wrong with me, no matter how many times it has been explained. You do not live in my body…just as I do not live in yours. My doctors have told me that there are times in which I will need to spend an entire day or so resting, unless I want to land in the hospital. This is the last time that I want to hear this sort of remark. It is not acceptable, not to mention degrading”. After making my statement, I grabbed my sweater and headed off. I will not explain myself any further to people who know the situation. There will be no more guilt on my part. No more attempts to get anyone to understand. The other beauty of the way in which I now view myself is that even though I admit I feel a good deal of anger when faced with this sort of thing from people who know the facts…the anger does not take over nor does it last long.

I have learned to say what I need to say without leaving any room for interpretation or questioning, and I move on without holding on to negative feelings. It’s learning the difference between your own stuff and other people’s stuff. Anyone else’s grasp or lack of understanding is their stuff to deal with. My stuff is explaining my position and taking care of myself. It’s that balance of give and take between human beings with everyone involved doing their best, without causing harm or injury to themselves. Even if no one else knows at times that I am doing my best, that’s okay. I know the truth…the rest is their stuff.

Sometimes it is very difficult to move beyond the denial and even guilt which arise when you are no longer able to do the things you once did. It has taken me six long years to fully move beyond those feelings, which makes it important to me that I encourage others dealing with them. As I was grasping the reality of what it all meant, there was a long time in which I felt guilty about seeing my own needs as needing to take a place of priority. Even though I knew that I was literally endangering myself…the guilt of standing by without physically pitching in with certain tasks overrode what I knew to be the truth as told to me by three neurologists and a rheumatologist. The fact of the matter is this.

Since very early adulthood I’ve battled with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. While I lived my entire adult life in a cycle of oftentimes self induced flares (which wasn’t real wise), which could have created serious issues, it wasn’t as severe a threat as I face post rear-end car accident. The threat which looms over me now is the real possibility of paralysis from the neck down if I am not very careful about the way in which I use my body. This does not stop me from living…no way! It just means that I can no longer safely perform certain manual tasks. I have known this for six years and have spent the past two years slowly allowing myself to accept it without guilt.

So, if anyone reads this who is facing similar issues…please come to terms with it before it’s too late. Sure, accidents could happen…which is something not within your control. However, choosing to endanger yourself because you feel guilty is another story. I made the wrong choice for several years and feel thankful that I was able to escape the worst possible consequence of my decisions. I know…trust me… how hard it is to recreate your life. However, I have learned that the voice inside your head telling you that your life is essentially over if you can no longer do the things you once did is a big fat liar. There is a wonderful, yet different life on the other side of those feelings. Perfect? Hell no, yet it really is wonderful. We all deserve to have a sense of acceptance of ourselves, as well as to live a life which suits and brings out the best of our abilities. Don’t ever forget that. You may not be able to offer the same things as before…but you still have a lot which is just as, if not more amazing than what you were previously doing.

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6 thoughts on “Becoming Your Own Best Advocate

  1. The response that you gave this insensitive person shows an amazing amount of assertiveness, eloquence, and self confidence. Many people never reach that level of maturity and wisdom, no matter how old they get. Nice work! *standing ovation* 🙂

  2. Hi Karen, thank you. It took me a long time to stand up for myself and feel good about it. For a little while, I went to the opposite extreme and went in blasting…full guns. That didn't feel good at all. I guess more time was needed for me to grow into myself and be happy with who I am before I was able to find that balance. I appreciate your support…very much! Love and hugs right back to you. 🙂

  3. Spark, I have to admit that it felt amazingly good to have handled it this way. To have found this space which I find myself in…being okay with me and knowing that there is nothing wrong with expecting respect makes me very happy. Part of getting here was learning that it is up to me to bring what I need into my life. If someone chooses to meet me on middle ground…that is wonderful. If they do not, well…that is their stuff. Really knowing this deep down inside makes such a difference. Hopefully I can help others to get there too. *Taking a bow* LOL! *HUGS*

  4. This has been your AH HA moment. It has taken you a long time. I am so happy that you are finally accepting that you can no longer do these things and risk hurting yourself. No guilt. It is truly refreshing and doesn't it make you feel free? You still have a wonderful fulfilling life to live, no matter what your limitations and no matter what other people think. It is what "you" think and do that matters. I love you my sister. *HUGS*

  5. Yes, it sure has sister…both been my AH HA moment and that it took me a long time. You have tried to get this through to me for years and I was just not able to see it. Yes, I do feel free…more than I ever have. Thank you for trying to get me to see this. I'm just glad that I finally got it…before I had really hurt myself beyond repair. Thank you for always being so supportive of me…even when I've been a stubborn ass. I love you too sister. *BIG HUGS AND SMILES*

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