Friday, December 7, 2012

Not A "One Size Fits All" Holiday

The season of giving is upon us. But it can be hard to give when one doesn't have enough of their own. Be it time, money, health or energy, a deficit is a deficit. It's quite a controversial practice to keep doling out more than one is taking in. Defies logic, even. Yet many people will tout the benefits of giving over receiving. Feelings of serendipity bloom in me when I am able to give freely and without concern for reciprocity. But for so many years I couldn't even get myself up and to work every day without catastrophic weekend meltdowns. If money hadn't been an issue, time and health were surely standing firmly in my way. I miss the joy of giving, of not stressing over my own survival, of engaging in the give and take of life's relationships. All things I am working so hard to get back from this nasty illness.

I remember the years of CFS/ME when setting the table and opening a bottle of wine was the sum of all I could do. How to communicate that to healthy people, that I'm not just sitting here staring into space slack jawed for fun? It's because a battle was being waged between my body and mind inside me? Quite frankly I couldn't believe my reality. I know I wouldn't be able to comprehend it if I hadn't experienced it first hand. Like many things in life I don't know if a person truly can. 

What Fibromyalgia has forced me to do is step out of the madness of frantic shopping and frenzied wrapping. Of blowing credit card limits to get that oh so perfect gift for every person on my list. I haven't sent cards in years because quite frankly, I really didn't have anything positive to say. I was sick and my life was coming apart. And I couldn't afford the postage. No, for the last five years I had to sidestep the usual holiday beehive because I was in a huge deficit. What's funny is I discovered by refocusing my efforts there is still plenty to enjoy. Spending time with family and the excited snap in the December air. Whipped up egg nog and the soft glow of a twinkling tree. The little children at church acting out the Christmas story. Chanting, "You'll shoot your eye out!" along with the TV like we have every year since 1983. I've come to realize giving doesn't have to be nearly as exhaustive. There aren't as many people on my list, I don't get as many cards in the mail and there aren't as many gifts under my tree. But that was the life I got sick in. This one is much smaller, and suits me far better. 

Thanks for joining,


  1. Leah,

    As I sit and read your blog I feel like you are reading my life from a book. Often I wonder if there are other people out there that can possibly inderstand what this illness is really like. You put into words what I think of each day. How can I thank you for making me feel like I am not alone. FM has stripped away almost everything I use to be and hold so dear. I still find joy and happinesss at times, but these days they are few and far between. As I wipe away my tears I just want to say thank you sister!

  2. I have to agree that having this illness has taught me to pay attention to how i feel,to appreciate the people that stayed in my life and my husband who has risen to every challenge.Fibro has made me slow down and smell the roses so to speak and these days thats a precious thing.

  3. Leah and Roxann, As I read your posts it sounds like my life and I am sure of every person with Fibro/Fatigue. I think that you have to have Fibro to really know the destruction that it takes on your body and your life. It is hard for others to truly understand unless you know the pain. Kind of like breast cancer and treatment. Until you have been there you do not truly know. I had a call the other week asking for donations. My reply, I am on disabilty with only my disabilty check, I would love to donate but my finances will not allow me too. The reply was surely you can afford $40 dollars for so and so. I relplied sir I struggle to pay my bills and eat. Their reply, Surely just one a year. This is a group who gets money from other means and if something happens to them their kids go to college free, they get a check for their kids each month and not the state money. After several refuseals, I am sorry to say that I had to just hang up on them. They do not take no for an answer, last year when they called I finally just said ok and gave the the lowest donation and then the put me on hold to get my address and the person reply Could you just do a little more. I said sir I am struggling to give you this.
    My life has change drastically and thankfully my family decided to quit exchanging gifts and only buy for the kids. But if we did exchange gifts I would just have to tell my family that I do not have it and I am not able to shop. I enjoy Christmas just as much, we get together have our dinner, talk, enjoy our time together and watch the kids open their gifts. People go out and go into debt to buy when they do no have the money. I do not understand that. It is not the amount/gift and today things are even worse with the economy. I have had to learn to put myself first and take care of me. I have had to learn to say NO. My life is different and if I do not accept it then others will not.