Saturday, August 28, 2010

Channeling My Inner Scarlett

I grew up on the movie Gone With The Wind... A tale of a dark and troubled time in our countries history, a necessary time. This telling of America's ugly past is puff-pastry layered over with the icing of one spit-fire of a heroin and her determination not to let life get her down. Fiddle-de-de! So when I found out Gone With The Wind was masterfully updated and available on blu-ray I was elated! My husband, with his newly passioned craft for acting, needs to familiarize himself with the classics and I saw this as an awesome opportunity to experience Tera as she had never been seen before; bright, vivid, crisp & clear. So we sat down last weekend to watch the tale unfold in all its glory. I was enraptured, romanced, taken back to another time...not only by what was unfolding on the rich and descriptively detailed screen in front of me but also by the memories of the impact this film had on my youth...and my husband hated it!

"This is racist!" he proclaimed. "No shit!" I said. "What a spoiled brat, I don't get her motivation. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her or something?" he said. I just smiled. This was the man that hated "On The Road", not understanding or identifying with the self-indulgent beatnik generation walking away from their responsibilities to simply live and experience the passions of being. He has seen too much pain in his life, worked too damn hard to keep our heads above water, stuffed his wants and dreams and desires deep down to forge ahead into pure survival. He feels no compassion for the dizzy, spoiled and over-privileged that dominate our society. Those originating in the 1960's counter-culture and continuing on through today's coddled youth. I just laughed and told him he was missing the point...a woman that would not be beat down by the harshness of a world she was ill-prepared to live in, who did what had to be done to keep herself and those she loved going. Although she compromised morals, ethics, integrity and honor many times over, she survived. No, she thrived!

"I'm not going to think about this today. I will think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day!" Scarlett O'Hara's famed mantra is well suited to the Fibromyalgia patient. How many times have we all crumpled down into a completely frustrated lump of exhaustion, having finally given into the pain and fatigue pulling our bodies and minds down the rabbit hole of despair? Nothing that so desperately needed to be accomplished had been done. Laundry, bills, dishes, kids, all the necessities of life that keep piling up, causing more anguish and sorrow simply by still needing our attention. The guilt if one happens to have others in their life that are picking up the slack, the fear if one does not. I remember when I returned to work after 7 months on disability, everyone kept commenting to me that my house must be so clean and organized (remembering the type-A go-getter of my pre-Fibromyalgia self) and I would just nod my head from side to side and say, "Actually, I sat and watched the dust and laundry and dishes, everything pile up around me, too sick to do anything about it". They would give me the yeah right look, hardly believing or imagining life on those terms.

Living in the now is one of the hardest qualities of life to master for a well person, but a sick one? Me-oh-my! But let's try for some raw honesty here for a second. There is always going to be more to get done than time, energy or motivation to do it. There are always going to be expectations we simply cannot meet, self-imposed or otherwise. There are always going to be totally-mundane but seemingly-crucial tasks at hand. So we can beat ourselves up with failure, disappointment and frustration or we can decide to look at those few things that do get done as amazing, with pride! If the bed gets made, enjoy the way it looks for that 1 day, for it may not happen again for a while. If the dishes get washed, go out of your way to meander through the kitchen and notice how clean and pretty it looks. It could be weeks until you see it that way again! If the laundry gets sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away all in the same day, go buy yourself a Gold Star and scream from the rooftops, because you sure as hell deserve it! It is up to us to change our mind-set away from one of disappointment and failure, expecting the performance of our pre-Fibromyalgia selves, and toward pride and newly-adopted realistic expectation. What is important in life are the relationships we have, those we love and surround ourselves with, by choice or circumstance. Those people are the easiest to lash-out the internal misery we reside in every minute of every day on. But they are where the limited and delicate energy a Fibromyalgia patient has should invest their efforts. Forget about the bed, go get take-out, read your kid a book and kiss your significant other/best friend/biggest supporter, telling them you love them and hopefully worming out a calf-massage in the process. And don’t forget our sister Scarlett, what an inspiration she can be to us all...for she truly had her priorities right. After all, tomorrow is another day!

Thanks for joining,


  1. Oh, yeah. Renegotiated expectations are where it's at, truly. One of the toughest mental distinctions for the chronically pained to grasp, at least for me, is the difference between pain and suffering. In my last life as a lawyer, I used to laugh when I'd see pleadings claiming "pain and suffering" as if they were different things. I'd chalk it up to lawyer-speak. But the fact is, they ARE different. And killing the suffering, while accepting the physical pain, is really crucial - and possible - especially when we can just convince ourselves to renegotiate our expectations of ourselves, our lives, and our loved ones. The floor does NOT have to be so clean you can eat off of it. Frankly, at this point in my fibro journey, that would kinda freak me out. I remind myself my daughter is healthier because I haven't raised her in an artificially sterile environment, and pat myself on the back - at least metaphorically, 'cause if I actually tried that, I'm positive I'd pull another muscle...

  2. Never really thought about the separation of pain & suffering...but its so true! Pain just is, suffering is in the eye of the sufferer...thanks for the insight!

  3. "There is always going to be more to get done than time, energy or motivation to do it."

    That is true for everyone, only it seems to be acknowledged just by the sick and Zen masters. The difference between the two being one of quantity. I'd bet the Zen masters don't have to choose between dishes and laundry. :-)

  4. I was out on disability for twelve weeks and when I went back to work I also got the "your house must be spotless" remarks. I told them that I was way to ill to have cleaned anything as I sat in my chair, laid in my bed or managed to get to the bathroom. People that have not experienced that kind of circumstance can't understand. They also knew me as the person that never sat, so that was why they had that idea.

  5. all the best from a fellow Scarlett fan: