I started writing this earlier today, but then I forgot…
Hey, but that’s what living with fibromyalgia’s like. 😉
Since receiving my diagnosis 8 years ago and confirming to myself that I was, indeed, not going crazy, I have experienced the backhanded wonder of a shattering self-concept. For those who are not familiar with the term:
“Self-concept is the image that we have of ourselves.” (Kendra Cherry, Psychology Expert at About.com and author of The Everything Psychology Book: An Introductory Guide to the Science of Human Behavior)
Of course, there is more to explaining self-concept. That, however, isn’t the focus of this post. However, I would encourage you to click on the links above to learn about it, or do some quick research online or in your local library.
The shattering of the self-concept is like waking up, looking in the mirror, and seeing a cubist version of yourself, daring you to decipher hand from foot, mouth from eye, ear from nose. It’s still you, but not. It’s still you, but more. It’s still you, but less.
I used to lament these changes, particularly the changes in my memory. The forgetfulness that came (and still comes) with my fibro fog was embarrassing. Forgetting the names of people, simple words, recent events, upcoming appointments, places, definitions, etc., left me feeling like I had developed early onset dementia. My self-esteem plummeted as I began to doubt my ability to continue functioning as a
normal human being. In other words, the whole experience sucked.
That is, until I decided to take my standard advice to others:
Build yourself an A.R.K.
Accept the facts, Restructure your reality, and Keep it moving.
In other words, take control.
I knew the facts, I simply wanted to remain in denial of them. I wanted to get back to the old me, the one could work 70 hour weeks and was always willing to work every holiday and even on the weekends, the one who could tolerate a heck of a lot of distress in my immediate environment. That person, people seemed to like. That person was someone who they could come to at any time and she would help them, regardless of her own circumstance. That person served a purpose and was a useful member of society–Wow, was I misguided.
It was the fallout from my upbringing that dictated that over-achievement, perfection, utter selflessness were the only ways to gain a place in society. What crock!
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with striving to achieve, working towards continued self-improvement, and thinking of others. However, when it is to an extreme, I believe it is a problem.
To move forward, I had to make sense of that person, i.e., what she ultimately wanted, and then find a way to achieve her goals and at the same time understand the new me and what goals I wanted to achieve.
Also, I had to wrap my mind around the idea that I was not losing a part of myself, rather parts of myself were transforming, and I had keep an open mind to how they would develop.
The other important aspect of moving forward was letting go of my self-concept on behalf of others. What I mean is, I found it hard to accept my changing self because I believed that I would no longer be accepted by those around me.
And my fear was not terribly unjustified. There were many who could not tolerate that I was no longer the person they knew. I learned that trying to conform to their expectations or trying to make them understand only made me ill. Ultimately, I chose (and will always choose) to walk away from those relationships.
For a person who was always focused on helping others, beginning a self-focused journey to discover/rediscover/develop/create/recreate my self-concept was a nightmare. I chose to leave where I was, everything I was, the culture that I knew best, and trust to hope. I took that grand leap 4 years ago.
Today, I can happily state that I’m comfortable with who I am. I know who I am. I know where I am going and am open to who I will become. I accept who I was. I don’t mourn for her like I used to. She’s still there. She’s just not me on a daily basis.
My strategy for dealing with fibromyalgia and life:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
(P.S. Any typos, please ignore them. I’m a bit tired right now.
However, I usually get around to fixing them.) 😉
Image found via GIS