My body is shutting down.
Fibromyalgia morphs stress into pain – the more stressed I get, the more pain I feel. It always starts in my feet. I can feel the muscles churning and twisting underneath thin skin. I press my thumbs into my heel to stave off yelling.
This pain carries upward, like an exponential chart made physical, made unreadable, made unreliable. Pain moves upward. It is currently as high as my hips and spine. Imagine someone unbolting the connector for your hips – all night. The echoes of their monkey wrench colliding with bone again and again and again wakes me up at all hours. My spine radiates pain at the base. I can feel the exact vertebrae that has betrayed me.
When you find a doctor who believes in fibromyalgia, they ask you to recount every trauma in your life. Using this method, they can give you a general idea of when you maxed out your Flight or Fight response. I was eight and I have long since discovered that there is a third option.
Flight, fight, or freeze. Everyone forgets the freeze.
You know what blows about having a chronic illness like fibro? No one can see your diagnosis. Your own family tell you it’s no big deal. Friends will tell you their aunt’s father’s best friend had it and he still ran twelve miles every day. People will tell you that your illness is your fault, that you’re not doing enough, that you could force yourself to get better “if you would just…”
And you know what? They’re going to tell you the same thing.
People will tell you that you should not feel sad. People will misdiagnose your pain as a tantrum and their privilege will allow them to see nothing else. They will tell you to get over it, they will tell you there’s nothing to be down, they will tell you that there’s no reason to be upset.
Many of us are hurting right now. We are stuck in the freeze, our wounds open, our throats raw. I’m going to invite you to take your time and heal. However long you need. It is valid to feel devastated, terrified, angry. You’re allowed to feel whatever is filling your chest cavity. When you’re ready, we have some work to do.
I love you. I’m proud of you. We’ll figure this out together.
TO THOSE WHO HOLD CONGRESS WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU FEEL DIFFICULT TO LOVE
Wolves have 42 teeth and even the ones
that melt your heart are strong enough
to pierce it and there’s no such thing
as mercy on the forest floor
Look beyond the gaping maw,
remove the bandages from your palms
and remember that it has always
known your taste
This time, run
this time shove the blood-moistened snout
from between your ribs and howl back
scream into the night that bore the beast
take no prisoners.
an old poem that felt fitting after this week. Please, please be good to each other – love loudly. Heal however you need, do no harm, and lean on the people you trust.
and if you need people, you’ve got me.