Life in Japan| Envy & Other Uncomfortable Emotions

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan. It’s been a long day, and I’d like nothing better than to go to bed. However, I want to spend a little time discussing a topic that has been on my mind: envy.

The American Psychological Association defines envy as “a negative emotion of discontent and resentment generated by desire for the possessions, attributes, qualities, or achievements of another.” It can often be confused with jealousy, which requires a third party to be involved. And it can be very challenging when you experience both simultaneously.

There are various reasons why one might feel envious and/or jealous. At the core of these feelings, however, lies insecurity, which brings me to the main point of this post: difficult feelings (negative emotions), like envy, are just an indicator that you need to stabilize your sense of self.

Your foundation, for whatever reason, has become shaky, weakened and in need of repair.

Yesterday, while roaming the streets of Tokyo, I spent time talking with my friend about her experiences with envy and jealousy. It gave me pause for thought about my journey over the recent years. To say that I felt insecure would be an understatement. I lived with a number of uncomfortable emotions, including envy and jealousy.

Photo by Jacob Prose on Pexels.com

Instead of denying these emotions, pulling away because they were undesirable (negative) emotions, I chose to be curious about them. I leaned into them. I wanted to understand why they existed within me. Why did I feel envious? Why did I feel jealous?

Surely, there were external factors and a childhood history that created the perfect breeding ground for such emotions to thrive. Furthermore, I understood my experience of jealousy better than envy because I had encounter this feeling in an early relationship. Being envious of someone was new and, to be quite frank, nonsensical–I had no reason to feel envious. Thinking about it with a rational mind, I could see that there was nothing about which I needed feel envy. Still, I did feel envious…and so I tackled it head on.

Overcoming uncomfortable emotions takes a willingness to self-confront, nonjudgmentally and with grasp on the concept of taking ownership of your feelings. Regardless of what has been outside of your control, you always have the choice to take control of you, of your mind, body, and emotions. By taking control, by understanding that your next step forward is in your hands, your feelings of insecurity can begin diminishing.

Of course, it’s easy to write the above. It’s far harder to live it. Still, one has to decide what is more important: living with the burden of these uncomfortable emotions or living freely and comfortably as who you are.

One key tip: it is far easier to stabilize your foundation and heal when you remove/separate yourself from the toxic relationships in which you have chosen to engage. Do that, and a great deal of change is awaiting you.

Life in Japan | Day Trip to Tokyo & Mental Programming

Pedestrian Crossing, Shibuya, Tokyo

Somewhere, Tokyo. For some time now, I’ve been decoding and rewriting my mental programming script. It’s been a slow and challenging process, but an exciting and rewarding experience. Today represented the rewriting of another line of code: I went to Tokyo.

Since arriving in Japan, I have travelled little outside of my prefecture. However, the few times that I have ventured out have been marked by emotionally and mentally difficult experiences. Tokyo (or the thought of spending time there), in particular, has been a trigger for unwelcomed memories, anxiety and thoughts and feelings about self. So, I decided it was time to tackle that. I made a plan with a dear friend to meet in Shibuya for lunch and shopping.

109 Mall, Tokyo

The morning started early for me (I left home at 5:00 to catch the train), and I could feel my anxiety level rise with every step I took to the train station. Luckily, I brought my knitting and crochet to help manage those feelings. By the time I arrived in Tokyo, I felt ready to see the city with an open mind and without the weight of the past.

I met my friend as planned, walked around the city, visited shops, had a great lunch, and laughed a lot. It was fantastic! I felt…happy. More importantly, I felt strong, confident about myself and my place in the world. I am truly grateful to my friend, who has been a like a ray of sunshine for me on emotionally cloudy days. Thanks!

I am proud of myself today in many ways.

Life in Japan | Learning to be real and letting go of codependency

Kasama, Ibaraki. It’s another grey day, the kind of day I find ideal for self-reflection. I have travelled to another city to see the local chrysanthemum festival. It’s not a long journey, about an hour and a half from start to finish…a little less if you count the mad dash I made to catch the bus to the train station.

After four and half years of living Japan, I have begun truly exploring my world. Sure, I visited Tokyo and Kyoto, got close to Mt. Fuji and visited some famous shrines. However, I was never really invested in visiting those places.

I was simply following along with the desires of others. This has been one of my biggest challenges in life: unlearning my codependency.

I was raised to be self-sacrificing, trained to be self-effacing, and taught that I was unworthy of unconditional love. With poor attachment and thus even poorer boundaries, I tried to navigate life through pleasing others in a bid to find acceptance, a place of belonging.

Some young version of self had been desperate for someplace to call home and for someone to call family. Some of you may be familiar with this feeling.

My navigation has led to a thoroughly interesting life that has provided (and continues to provide) me with opportunities for self-development. If living in Italy taught me about the importance of connecting with others, then living in Japan is teaching me about the importance of putting forth my authentic self.

In a culture that values the public face (建前), I have decided I no longer need my masks…because I am who I am. There is a beauty to being exactly who I am at all times. I laugh, cry, feel frustration and anxiety…sometimes all at the same time!

Expressing my true self, my “true sound” (本音), is my daily flow now. I am listening carefully to myself for the first time. I am giving myself the attention that I gave so freely to others in the past.

I feel zero shame or guilt for having been codependent. Codependency was my tool for surviving life. Certainly, I am glad that moving forward I don’t have a use for it.

I am a highly sensitive and empathic person who has spent enough years trying to conform to expectations of others, regardless of those expectations. It isn’t and wasn’t healthy.

Understanding how and why codependency serves a purpose in your life is key to making the changes necessary to shift your life from one of merely surviving to one of meaningful thriving.

Letting go of codependency doesn’t mean that you stop caring about others. It means that you have started:

  • caring about yourself
  • listening to your needs
  • honouring your feelings
  • clearing internal and external sources of toxicity (psychological and physical)
  • learning about yourself
  • focusing on fully crafting your own life, and
  • putting yourself first.

This list could be longer. However, I think you get the point. Overcoming codependency means acknowledging yourself as a being worthy of good things/experiences…and that you can give yourself those things/experiences.

Umbrellas, Kasama Inari Shrine

Codependents are like chameleons, changing their outer expression of self to adapt to their environment, hoping that they will not become prey for predators. If I change, blend in just enough, then all will be well. It won’t. You will only lose yourself in the process.

Did you know that chameleons in their natural states are lovely shades of brown or green?

Letting go may not be easy. However, it is worthwhile. Seeing yourself for who you are, understanding what drives you, and loving yourself for all that you are and are not is the reward for choosing the process.

Be you, whoever that may be. Let others be themselves. Create strong boundaries and never lose sight of yourself.

Many thanks to those who have helped me to arrive at this point in my development. It’s been quite the journey to loving myself as I am. I will continue to create my path and share my process.

Now, it’s time to return home.

Life in Japan | Begin Where You Are

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Mito, Ibaraki, Japan. Weather: Rainy.

I’m sitting in one of the many cafés I consider a second home, watching passersby struggling with or embracing the rain. It’s Sunday morning and early enough that the late night clubgoers are still heading home. I am in awe of the high schoolers heading off to club activities and the salarymen who are likely heading to work some more. An obaachan holds on to her umbrella for dear life, her hands look gnarled yet strong and her bent back has seen its fair share of field labour of potato and rice harvesting, I imagine. That’s right, I am imagining, imagining the lives of the many people who happen by and who will likely remain unaware of my observation. What about my own life?

Recently, I have taken another step, shifting away from simply observing to taking action. A life lived in limbo is a life left on pause. I decided it was time to press my play button and see what happens. It’s a wild yet freeing feeling. I am learning to make peace with who I am and where I am in my life. Beginning where I am as who I am…what a crazy notion, at least for me. And it all began with a simple question: who would I have been if [insert whatever traumatic experience] didn’t happen?

Upon waking, I thank the universe that I have another opportunity to continue on this interesting journey called life. I am grateful for my breathing because I know that I am here. I make my bed with pleasure. I stretch for a moment and then clean my apartment…and then stretch some more. My body still feels heavy because of old experiences and thought patterns. However, I am feeling lighter in my heart and body as each day passes. I make a simple breakfast and lunch–I am practicing letting go of greed. I am letting go of suffering.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

Actions taken without worry, without the nagging inner critic or concern for the outer critics. This is the type of life that I am creating…and it is empowering. I am learning how to listen to feedback, whether from self or others, nonjudgmentally, taking from it what I find necessary for self-improvement and letting go of the rest. Freeing myself from the suffering of shame, the feeling of being inherently wrong as a human being, is my work now. I have discovered that my mind left without self-compassion is a dark and seemingly unruly place. I have also discovered that I am not my mind, nor am I my body. I am who I am.

Understanding that I am and am not has been crucial to pressing the play button on my life. I can observe the parts of myself, my mind and my body, with curiosity and then with intention. How shall I shape my mind to think? How shall I shape my body to move? My mind is my canvas, and I am the painter. My body is my clay, and I am the sculptor. In this way, I am choosing to move forward with my life.

Recently, a friend shared with me her knowledge of kintsugi (金継ぎ) or kintsukuroi (金繕い), the Japanese art of mending broken pottery using gold, silver, or platinum. She said to me that she thought that it was a lovely metaphor for when we are feeling broken in our lives and trying to mend ourselves. That is, that we can choose how we mend those places in which we have experienced hurt, to make those places and our overall sense more beautiful and stronger in the process.

So, in letting go of suffering, taking action in our lives through acknowledging ourselves, not just as mind and body, we can begin where we are on our journey and heal those places in which we have experienced hurt. We can begin creating new paths to an authentic self.

Have a beautiful day today and every day.

D.

Fibromyalgia | 15 Years Later…

Orchid and Droplets

Recently, as in today, I have been listening to the music of Wardruna, a Norwegian band focused on sharing Old Norse traditions, reclaiming it from those who have misappropriated it. Let’s make it quite clear, I am rather ignorant of many aspects of Old Norse traditions.

The closest I came to learning anything about Old Norse tradition was taking a course on Germanic languages (thank you, Professor Robinson) and studying the rune poems to learn about the runic alphabets. That’s it.

Still, I found myself entranced by the voice of Einar Selvik singing the poem “Völuspá,” which tells the Norse creation myth. Certainly, I understood nothing of the words, but the passion of his voice brought tears to my eyes. Such is the power of music.

Völuspá tells not only of the birth of world, but also its death and rebirth.

Fifteen years ago, I realized that something was terribly wrong. I felt tired, sick, and in pain. For two years, I searched for an answer. At various points, I was convinced that I was just psychosomatic, it was all in my head–it didn’t help that my doctor was dismissive of my condition and did little to help. Ultimately, I learned the name of my condition: fibromyalgia.

I wrote quite a bit about my journey with fibromyalgia between 2011 and 2015. For the past six years, I have remained relatively quiet on the topic and this blog for a variety of reasons. However, I would like to share with you a little about my journey.

Contrast Petals

If I think back to 2008, when I first received my diagnosis, my mind immediately remembers the laundry list of medications I was asked to take just to function. I spent more time at hospitals and clinics than at any other time in my life. I joined a support group that caused me to realize that there was some other way that I wanted to live…

I wanted to find a path to living a life that held meaning to me and not one defined by my illness. I believe I found it.

I became vegan (now pescatarian), started meditating, doing yoga, and taking walks regularly, and began scaling back on the medications I was being asked to take. Ultimately, I went from taking approximately eleven medications to taking three. And for the past four years, I take only one…and it’s not for fibromyalgia. Instead, I go regularly for acupuncture or massage to help with pain management.

Choosing to Do Things Differently

Living with fibromyalgia means living with uncertainty: uncertainty of what one can do, how one will feel, etc. It is understanding that one’s sense of self-efficacy will be shaken if not shattered. There is nothing quite as humbling as waking up to realize that one can neither move because of pain nor remember a particular word (or two) due to brain fog. One’s body can become an enemy as it seems to work against one’s mind. As a result, one’s self-concept may begin to unravel–it certainly did for me.

I’ve spent the past decade redefining myself, constructing a new self with the fragments of self that survived pre-fibromyalgia, filling in the missing parts with who I have become. Certainly, everyone changes over time. However, developing a chronic illness in adulthood, in particular, means having to accept a change in a well-established sense of self-concept as well as deal with the potential fallout of being ill. A long-term battle between who one is and who one used to be can ensue.

Blossoms…Warmth

So, what can you do?

Choose to experience life differently.

For a long time, I was unhappy with my very nomadic life of living for only few years in any one place. However, now, I believe that my nomadism has been beneficial to my understanding my life with fibromyalgia. With each new place I have lived, I have had a chance to experience the world in a new way. Eventually, I came to the thought: why not remain open to experiencing myself differently, not just the world?

The challenge was no longer to hold on to an old concept of self, an old identity–it was to see and embrace a new aspect of self. Who am I now? How have I changed? What have I learned? Where do I want to go now on my journey?

Choose to ask yourself questions that open yourself to a newer you.

I realized that there was nothing to fear in being different from who I was. In the uncertainty of my condition, I found certainty. Having fibromyalgia has taught me (repeatedly) to be mindful of my physical and mental limits. It has confirmed for me certain goals and allowed me to discard others. I have become a kinder person to myself. Also, I am very curious about how my illness will continue influencing my perception of the world around me.

Remember: be who you are, embrace who you will become. In the interim, work on creating a life full of meaning for you. Let it be a life not defined by, but informed by your challenges.

Look forward to your rebirth.

Until Next Time,

Diedre

Today On My Kindle:

Feeling Good About Yourself Shouldn’t Be A Reward

Ajigaura Beach, Ibaraki, Japan

Rewarding oneself is not particularly uncommon. We reward ourselves for a variety of reasons, usually after accomplishing something considered a goal or an important task. If a quick internet search on the topic of rewarding oneself proves anything, it is that, at its core, people are seeking reasons to feel better about themselves.

How we choose to reward ourselves also varies. However, some examples are going out to eat, shopping, or taking a vacation. Using food, in particular, may tap into childhood experiences, where food may have been used either as a reward or punishment, based upon behavior. Ultimately, how you choose to reward yourself for your achievements is how you choose to reward yourself.

Lately, I have been reading about motivation and engagement, particularly within the workplace. After all, I spend a great deal of my working, and understanding how and why I am working is important to me. Just so you know, I tend to be a more intrinsically motivated person, which has its benefits and drawbacks. Regarding engaging with life, I am finding my flow.

Journeying toward the within is lifelong. When I first started this blog, just over a decade ago, I little knew my direction, only that I was moving towards something or self that was different from what I knew or had come to accept. Ten years later, I have come to realize that…

I have spent a long time thinking that feeling good about myself was a type of reward. It wasn’t something that I was allowed to experience on daily basis. It was a treat, as it were. I could reward myself with feeling good about me and my life after I had accomplished something meaningful, after I became someone useful, etc. Feeling good just because I exist wasn’t a concept I inherently understood.

This, of course, may seem rather strange, considering my background as a therapist. Being a therapist doesn’t mean, however, that you have your own psychology completed sorted. After all, therapists need therapists, too. It may be far easier to see the problems of others and understand how to effect positive change than to see and make changes in one’s own life.

I am certain that I am not alone in this thinking pattern of feeling good as a reward. It is telltale of a life defined by expected perfection and overachievement. It can mean a life of never feeling quite good enough and of rarely, if ever, acknowledging what one has done…because there is always some way that one can improve or that something more that should be done. An accomplishment becomes a brief signal that for a moment you can feel good about your existence.

Such a difficult way to live life…

Kashima Shrine Gate, Japan

Feeling good about yourself can be an everyday experience. It comes with acknowledging your existence as being meaningful–that as you are, you are worthy. Worthy of what? Worthy of self-love, self-care, self-regard, self-trust, etc. The life you have built up until now is yours to do with as you will. It isn’t a race that you either win or lose. It is simply a life, one that can be lived positively (if not always happily).

So, where do we go from here? Well, I have a couple of recommendations:

  1. Start simple – Think/write about how you have been viewing you and your life up until now.
  2. Inform yourself – Learn about ways you can improve enjoying who you are in your everyday life.
  3. Step back – Take time to yourself, just for yourself, to do something/experience good.

I enjoy reading. Here are some books that I have been using to help my journey:

Feeling good about yourself, if it is unfamiliar to you, may be likened to forming a new habit. Let’s be real, it will take time, consistency, and a patience. There are various theories and approaches to how one can form a habit. My recommendation is to keep it simple and focus on the moment you are in and how you are feeling.

You may not always feel great about your thoughts and your actions. However, you can always feel good about who you are and your existence.

Check out this interesting article on rewards by Gretchin Rubin (PsychologyToday.com): “Why We Shouldn’t Reward Ourselves for Good A Habits…With One Exception.”

Until Next Time,

Diedre

Self-Care| Letting Go of Promises & Finding Peace of Mind

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Untitled. D. Blake, 2017

It’s a grey day, I’m at Starbucks, eating a strawberry cheesecake scone and drinking iced tea, and I feel a little tired. I started my morning by taking a long walk, looking at flowers, and listening to The Tao of Fully Feeling by Pete Walker. Yesterday, I finished Walker’s Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. On a daily basis, I consume books, articles and videos on childhood and adult trauma, self-care, fibromyalgia, personality disorders, and how to keep it together when you’re broken and involved. It’s a healthy diet of I’m ready to change.

This year marks a decade since I received my diagnosis of fibromyalgia. However, it’s been a life marked by a host of diagnoses: depression, SAD, OCD, PCOS, IBS, Raynaud’s syndrome, overweight, underweight, high blood pressure, etc.; and I was a walking pharmacy–there always seemed to be some new and improved medication to fix whatever was broken inside me.

All the while, I was doing the arduous work of unpacking my childhood, being therapized and therapizing myself, while codependently trying to fix everyone else’s problems, whether they wanted me to or not. I was without clear boundaries in my personal life, struggling with a compulsion to solve sadness, my own and others.

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Places to go. D. Blake, 2017.

Letting Go of Promises

You see, I made two promises a long time ago–not to myself, but to my family. I can’t recall my exact age, but I remember the moment with clarity. An incredible argument took place between one of my older siblings and my parents. Without going into the details, that moment represented the totality of my family’s dynamics: unbounded dysfunction.

Nothing was ever a discussion, always a war zone…and the children were used as  landmines against each other and seen as acceptable collateral damage. I made a promise aloud to my mother on that day. I told her that I would 1) become a therapist and 2) fix my family.

I had forgotten about those promises for two decades. Unearthing them again in a therapy session, back in December 2014, shook my world. I had to face the fact that I had been unconsciously living a life based on these promises…

In 2006, I became an art therapist and mental health counselor. I spent years, prior to and thereafter, confronting my parents on their unacceptable behaviors towards my siblings and me. I tried to create dialogue. I tried to be a bridge. I tried…until I realized, in 2016, that I couldn’t do that anymore.

I can’t keep these promises that my younger self made. I can’t undo what was done to my siblings and me. I can’t fix my parents, nor do I wish to anymore.

Still, I was raised to cater to others. I was raised to take the blame for others. I was raised to disregard myself and defer to others. It’s no simple task living within and for myself.

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Self-portrait, D. Blake, 2017

Peace of Mind

So, I’ve been reading, watching, confronting and comforting myself. I take daily walks, I remind myself that change is a moment by moment act of meeting yourself wherever you are. I can’t walk back my childhood nor the harrowing moments of my adulthood. However, I can walk toward the type of future I would like to have and the future self I would like to be.

In the past, fixating on the emotions of others and even myself, and trying to control the outcome of everything was what brought me a sense of fragile peace–as long as I knew what someone was going to do or what was going to happen next, then everything was okay.

Now, it’s the simple things that give me peace of mind: flowers, stones, water, changes in the weather, the sound of laughter, singing, and dancing–flowing with what is rather than what I would like to be.

Change seems to happen with the smallest and simplest of actions…at least, this is what trying to live within myself has been showing me lately.  If you’re on a similar journey, then I hope it’s the same for you.

Until Next Time,
D

Free Write| Owning myself.

free-speech-346x336She’s looking at me again. I don’t know what she’s thinking, nor do I want to know. It’s too early in morning, and I’ve already got a laundry list of stuff I need to take care of–she’s not on that list.

I never look at her long enough to feel her fatigue, just enough to know that she’s not going to break…yet. She doesn’t deserve my empathy or compassion–at least, not now.

I know she won’t say anything. That’s the way she is. She just stares. Maybe later, if I bother to ask, she might say that she “feels tired,” and “wishes that this could all stop.” She complains a lot. That’s why I never ask.

I meet my partner, and we talk about how difficult things are between us. They always are. We complain that we’re tired and that we wish that this could all stop between us. We complain a lot. That’s why I decided to ask her.

I get home. I look at her. She’s still staring at me. I can tell she’s breaking now. She’s been broken so many times–I’m not sure how I’ll fix her this time. I’m starting to think that it’s too late now. That’s why I decided to ask her about her thoughts, her feelings, her needs, and her wants. She says…

“There’s nothing to fix. Just recognize me. Be with me. Own me. I am you. You are me. How long will you deny your fragility?”

Indeed.

Until Next Time, 

D.

 

On silence, healing fibromyalgia, dealing with narcissism, and learning a whole heck of a lot about myself

First, thank you to my followers, both new and old, for continuing to bless me with your support.  I have not been around much, nor have I posted much of anything personal. Still, you continue to stick with me. Thank you!

 

“If you have nothing [nice] to say…”

Over the past year and a half, my life has changed dramatically. Some of those changes were good, others were not so good. Still, I try my best to take changes as they come, learn from them what I can and keep taking steps towards achieving my goals. In my opinion, that’s the most effective approach to living my life.

Part of the process of accepting change is observing change. And I truly believe that observation is a silent process. It’s hard to observe and act at the same time–at least it is to me.

So, I’ve been in observation mode, mostly observing myself and my reactions and actions in dealing with myself in my environment, as well as just the environment itself. I’ve spent a lot of time in my head and subsequently in my body, i.e. I’ve been sorting through my mental blocks (negative self-talk/thinking) and how they impact my health and prevent me from quickly reaching my most important goals.

On the subject of health: I’m glad to state that my health has been truly awesome, and that my fibromyalgia symptoms have diminished significantly. I’ve had fewer flares, fibrofog moments and have been getting enough normal/restful sleep (between 7-9 hours). Also, I’ve been walking for about 1 hour almost daily and have recently started the BeachBody On-Demand 30-Day Free Trial that has a great deal of exercise programs for people of all levels.  If you have fibromyalgia and are interested in starting or improving an exercise program, I would say check it out because it allows for you to select programs by type: cardio, muscle building, less than 30 minutes, slim and tone, dance, low impact, and yoga. Personally, I am sticking with less than 30 minutes, low impact, dance and yoga.

I think my greatest challenge is that I consume news and, as a person of colour, it stresses me out…then again, who isn’t stressed when watching the news. Still, it’s important to stay informed, and I try to do so without being inundated.

So, what have I learned during my silence? A whole heck of a lot. Here is a list:

So, that’s it. It’s good to be writing again.

Until Next Time,

D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIBROMYALGIA & BEING A SOCIAL PARIAH: REINVENTING YOURSELF AFTER LOSING EVERYTHING (PART 2)

typing on the computerWhat if you never had fibromyalgia? How would you have lived your life up until this moment? What dreams would you have already fulfilled? Better still, who would you have created yourself to be?

Here’s the deal, regardless of whatever your chronic illness is, there are likely many questions like the ones above that you have asked or are actively asking yourself right this very minute.  It’s human nature to wonder about the possibilities, especially when it comes to your own life (and if you aren’t wondering, please, ask yourself why).  Maintaining our curiosity, that element of wonder, about ourselves and our the world around is key to making any significant change in the way we live.  When we shut ourselves down and shut out the world, we are essentially denying ourselves access to the power that subjective and objective knowledge can bring to furthering our self-understanding.  And increasing self-understanding means increasing our ability to achieve self-mastery.

When we think of self-mastery, we may think of complete control of the self, i.e. control of thought which leads to control of actions, which means better ability to respond (not react) effectively to the world around us.  Simply put, self-mastery, self-understanding, and self-awareness go hand in hand, best summarized by this quote:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

14533091400317-e1453308786450If you have fibromyalgia, then you know that one of the first thing you lose is control.  You lose control over your body and your mind.

The physical activities that you used to do with ease now prove difficult. The memory that you once prided yourself on now has sticky notes all over it marked fibro fog.  That’s just the way it is. There’s no shame in it. Having fibromyalgia means 1) losing control over the physical vehicle that transports who you are (body), and 2) losing control over the mental vehicle that relays your who you are to the world around you and to yourself (mind).  Of course, the severity of the loss depends of the severity of your fibromyalgia…and your engagement in self-care.

You’re Not Broken, Just Different

Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not believe in regret. Truly, I don’t. I believe in lessons learned.  I think regretting your life, in any shape or form, does not help you to move forward from wherever you are, especially when you have a chronic illness. The fact is the past is in the past. Yesterday is already the past. And today will be the past quite soon. So, here are the only questions that you need to ask yourself today:

What step(s) will I take to move my life forward today?

What step(s) have I taken to move my life forward today?

They are really simple questions with big implications. They imply choice.

You did not have a choice in having fibromyalgia. You do have a choice in whether or not you will allow it to control your life. Although you may feel broken, unwanted, used up, without purpose, or simply helpless, you are not.

You are not broken. You are different. 

The person you knew yourself to be is in the past, along with yesterday and all the days before that.  The high points and the low points of that person is gone. Keep her or him in your memory with fondness, but do not dwell.  Like how you may think fondly upon your teenage self or child self, think so upon who you were. But get excited about who you are and who you are crafting yourself to be.

Remember how when you were a teenager or a child, you couldn’t wait to see what type of adult you would be? Perhaps you became that adult, perhaps not. Either way, it’s time now to tap into the curiosity, to apply today that wonder that you had about the unknown you. It’s time to tell yourself that there is nothing to fear in being someone you don’t know or cannot yet imagine.

This is the first step in reinventing yourself: getting to know the new you. 

How do you do this? Ask yourself the first question I proposed above (What step(s) will I take to move my life forward today?), then take the quote above as inspiration: watch your thoughts. Listen for an answer. What does your new self want to do? Be curious about that self. Work to understand that self.  Be kind to that self.

Look out for Part 3: The Naysayers & Other Emotional Vampires

Read Part 1:  Reinventing Yourself After Losing Everything