This week my inner Vision got a little cloudy because I got stuck in a story that my mind was running, and so I ended up in an anxious, paralyzed, beating-myself-up kind of place.
The past three or four weeks have been really good for me. My pain’s been pretty manageable, I’ve decided what projects and goals I’d like to work on this year, and, most importantly, January has been SUNNY. But then a few days into this week my pain suddenly spiked to over 10 levels (the “official” pain scale does not have nearly enough numbers to rate fibro pain) and I freaked out because, WTF, pain?!
Pain always knocks me out of alignment, especially when it’s so unexpected. So I found myself madly scrambling around, trying to find an explanation for why I hurt so badly. And, as so often happens for me, the explanation my mind came up with was to blame myself for everything. Clearly I must have done something wrong this past month, so this pain must be all my fault. And since I had caused this pain myself, I deserved to suffer for my mistake (or so my story went).
This, unsurprisingly, only served to paralyze me in anxiety and shame, which in turn then stirred up more pain.
Luckily I talked to Lynne who reminded me to question my thinking and took me through “The Work” by Byron Katie, one of the most helpful tools I’ve learned for dealing with my monkey mind.
“The Work” is a series of questions you use to help untangle the stories that are causing you pain. Here is a sample of the dialogue I had with thoughts:
My story: This is my fault. I caused this pain. I deserve to be punished and suffer.
Is this true? YES! It is the truest thing that ever existed! Why are you even asking me this?!
Can I absolutely know that this is true? (Can I absolutely, 100% guaranteed know that I did “x”, which caused this pain?) No.
How do I feel when I think this thought? Horrible, awful, ashamed, anxious, afraid, sad, stuck. (Related questions: Is this story working for me? No, not so much. Can I think of a good reason to keep this story? Not really.)
Who would I be without this story? Free, forgiving, accepting, compassionate, kind, understanding, open, loving, creative.
Is there a story that feels as true or truer than my original story? I don’t know exactly what caused this pain flare-up.
And that’s the part that got me stuck. I HATE the randomness of this illness. I hate not being able to predict how I’ll feel in the next hour, let alone next day or next week. I hate not knowing “why”. I hate that things can be going really well, and then suddenly they’re not. So I scramble to find a reason, any reason, for why this might be happening. Because even if it means blaming myself, convincing myself that there’s some kind of explanation for my pain feels a lot better than having to accept that sometimes it happens for no other reason than the fact that I have fibromyalgia.
Which sucks. A lot. But if I can get to this point in my thinking, I can at least stop adding mental suffering to my physical pain. It’s not much, but I’ll take all the relief I can get.
Barb Markway says
The same cycle happens to me, Jenny! I think my rational mind wants an explanation SO bad, it will accept anything except “It’s random” or “We don’t know why…”
It does make it so hard to plan. When I feel good I think I’ll take on all kinds of projects, but then the pain increases and I can’t follow through.
I’m glad you were able to write this post… it always helps to know I’m not alone.
Fibro Facial Gal says
Yeah, fibro makes no bloody sense, but for my INTJ brain it is maddening. I still cling to insisting there must be some kind if logic, cause and effect, or even remote relationship. Nope, there isn’t, and I, like you, must keep learning to let go.
Good to known I am not the only one whose brain gets me wound up in knots.
Dear jenny, i’m a secret fan of your blog. One of the may persons that i’m sure reads your blog looking to feel understood. I live in mexico, so my blog is in spanish. My most recent post talks exactly about that. The whole purpose of my blog is to finally accept fibromyalgia. I’ve had it since i was under 20 years old. Im 37 now. And i was goig crazy because every time Ii felt better my head started to believe i was better. So, after 17 years of this madness i’m working on truly accepting FM as chronic, something that is with me even on the good days. The good side: there are so many things that i notice and value that before FM I took for granted… Also, if i respect and accept my body’s limitations, and learn to love myself truly with FM, it feels great to be me!