Wednesday, September 21, 2011

pardon me while I feel sorry for myself...

As I stepped into the shower this morning, I realized I needed to shave my legs because I was going to wear shorts today. That simple realization sent me into a flood of tears. It wasn't because I hate shaving my legs or anything, it was just that it was one. more. thing. to. do. When it hit me that I was crying over something so pathetically stupid, it dawned on me (for the hundredth or so time) that things have to change.

Ahhh, but there's the problem. I know things have to change. I even have a doctor's "prescription" for changes I need to make to help me learn to manage my new life with fibromyalgia. I must follow an exercise plan of brisk walking. Check. I must get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Huh? I must reduce the stress in my life. Double huh?

I understand that these things are essential for managing this condition. And I keep telling myself that I will get the hang of this. I will learn to pace myself. I will learn to take a break when I need to. I will learn to let go of some things.

But it's just not happening.


The thing is, I know for a fact that I'm far from the only person who has 5,043 obligations. Everyone may have different balls that they're juggling, but most of us are juggling a hefty amount. So why do I feel like I'm the only person who can't keep them all in the air?!! How is it that other people seem to make it look so easy?

Housecleaning is the ball I tend to let fall first, and I can live with that. At least for a while...but it eventually overwhelms me and leaves me feeling more stressed than ever. Second ball that usually falls is my friends...and you know what, that is simply unacceptable. Yes, I get stressed when I see the google reader number inching endlessly upward. But even worse are the unanswered emails, the cards that don't get made and mailed, the packages that sit for literally months waiting to get to the post office, etc. And the failings don't end there...

So I'm begging you, please tell me how you do it. From the simplest organization tricks to your best time-savers...please share!!!

(And btw, thank you for listening to my ridiculous bout of self-pity.)


Jean said...

I won't say I do it (manage stress, survive, whatever) well, but lowering my standards (or perhaps I started with low ones) helps. Note that you said "the cards that don't get made." When was the last time you got a card that I made? I buy them. And at the points in my life when buying them didn't fit with my budget, I'd send a very quick note. "Hang in there!" "Thinking of you." Etc. Packages to the post office? I send a lot of those with Blaine who can easily get them to the university post office. I do this to avoid frivolous driving into town, but it also saves time. Unanswered emails? Believe it or not, this may be your excuse or reason to blog. When we lived abroad, before email was widespread, I would write one letter each week, saying how Don was growing up and Steve was growing out (I was pregnant with him at the time). Friday afternoon, we had the ritual in which Don and I would trek to the lab Blaine was at, we would photocopy the letter, and mail it off to my mom, my dad, my brother, Blaine's mother, Blaine's brother, etc. A Christmas letter once a week, or, now, a blog post. One size may have to fit all for a while. Other organization tips? Let the kids do their own laundry or at least transport it to their rooms and put it away. They can also get the dirty stuff to a central location if they don't already. Look for other areas in which the kids can help, especially if helping can also be learning for them. Cereal for dinner is okay, maybe not every night, but when all else is going to pot, cereal! Get a coffee pot with a timer and set it up to start brewing 15 minutes before you get up. More than you wanted? If so, sorry, but there's probably more that could come. Those are just the ones off the top of my head. Love you!

Kailana said...

aw, Debi, I wish I had a quick fix for all of your problems... I am sorry you are going through such a rough time right now. I am not sure I am the best person to be advising you on ways to be better organized, but I do want to remind you that when things getting overwhelming just remember you have great family and friends that love you and will be there for you whenever you need them.

Hang in there!

Amanda said...

Honestly Debi, I can't give you any advice because I feel like you DO juggle well more than many of us. I mean, I stay at home all day long, with my kids in school rather than home-schooled, and I still don't manage to get the house clean or do all the things I'm supposed to do. Actually, and ironically, I think the reason I don't get them done is because I'm always home. I used to be much better at this when I was working and had less time - I don't know. Weird. But seriously, you have to think about what you're doing - you have a full time job with home-schooling, so you can't make your stay at home wife and mother job full time as well. You have to carve out YOU time, and with this new diagnosis and pain, they may be sacrifices you have to make, as much as that sucks. :/ I wish I had something better to offer...

Nymeth said...

I can't tell you how much I wish I could give you some infallible time-saving tips, but the thing is, I'm not sure if they even exist. Maybe one of the hardest (but also most important) parts of this whole adjustment process will be to accept that there WILL be things you have to let go of? You say you feel bad for dropping the ball when it comes to your friends, for example, but they will know you love them even if you don't reply to every e-mail or make a card or mail a package. They truly will, Debi. Also, I suspect that other people don't have it anywhere near as together as you imagine. I'm not saying this to be all, "You're wrong!", but because I think that seeing others so positively and yourself so negatively only adds to the stress. Yet so many of us feel that our lives are chaos and that everyone else somehow manages to get everything done. I hope you find a way to be less hard on yourself, my dear - and I say this knowing full well just how hard it is. That might very well be the most important thing you can do for your health right now.

Trish said...

I wish I knew the answer. My first answer is don't shave your legs. ;) Is the end of the world if you wear shorts with fuzzy legs? (I promise it's not--I know from experience).

One thing that I've learned recently is that I have to ask for help. And perhaps you need to do the same. It's OK to let people help you and I think you can do so in a way that doesn't make it feel like you are burdening yourself on others. People love to help others--especially friends and family--so why do we allow ourselves to feel guilty for asking?

Lists also help me, but I don't know if that might end up being too overwhelming? Guess it depends on what those 5,043 obligations are.

I also agree with the others that you HAVE to carve time out for yourself. This is an area where I'm really struggling as a new mom who is also trying to be the star wife, but the fact is--if we don't take care of ourselves, sometimes we can't take care of others as well as we could.

And self-pity is OK every once in a while. This is the first I'm learning of the fibro--my heart goes out to you.


Anonymous said...


I just wanted my best wishes and prayers your way. I too know how...hard it can be to feel like you're spinning plates and they're all seconds away from breaking - and I don't have to deal with what sounds like an ungodly amount of pain. But I can tell that you're a strig woman who will find a way to live and live fully. Sending good vibes your way,

PS: I'm sure you know already, but Eva from A Striped Armchair ( is also a blogger with Fibro, so she might be a good person to talk to when things get really rough!

Debi said...

No, not more than I wanted. Not at all! In fact, keep them coming if any more pop to mind. :D I actually do put many of those into practice, like the kids putting away their own laundry. Rich always makes our coffee the night before. The cereal for supper thing has definitely happened too. But some things elude me--maybe it's a warped need to control things, I don't know. Like why can't I accept that no one can hang or fold the laundry "correctly"? Yeah, I've got issues. :P And why I can't give up on the making cards thing, I've no idea. But it makes me a bit queasy to even think of buying cards most times. See? Issues. Maybe I just need to pick one small thing at a time and work on conquering it, huh? Anyway, thank're advice is *always* appreciated!

Thank you, sweetie! And you are absolutely right about that--I have the best friends and family I could ever hope for!

I've got you fooled, huh? ;-) Seriously though, thank you so much for everything you said! And it sounds like you don't give yourself enough credit--look at all the work you've put into your weight loss journey, into your writing, into your book clubs, etc. Don't you sell yourself short either! Maybe the fact is that none of us get it all done. And maybe that's just plain okay, huh?

If I believed in angels, I think I would be convinced that you were my guardian one. :) I *know* you're right. I do. In fact, we've certainly talked about it before. My obstinate nature can be a curse. And I definitely do need to learn to let go of some things. It's just so hard to figure out what. But I *know* I'm tired of it being my incredible, patient, very much loved friends that I somehow "let down" so often. I love you so much, my dear! Thank you.

LOL--you literally cracked me up! :D And you know, life is about adjusting and adapting all the time, isn't it? I think that maybe part of the problem is, like Ana said, that we all only *think* that everyone else has it all together, when really we're just all struggling to keep the chaos at bay. *hugs sweet Trish*

You know, I sort of regretted it after I hit the publish button on this post. I hated sounding so full of self-pity (even though I was). But I'm glad I did now--not only did I get wonderful support from friends I already know, but I got lovely, kind thoughts from a stranger. Thank you for your words, and now that I've discovered your blog from your comment, I hope we won't be strangers any longer!

DesLily said...

a short story. I know I am one of those that feed your push to "be all and do all" by saying what a great mom you are to do all these things you do with your kids..that is bad of me because it feeds into your feeling *how important it is that you can't ease up*..
now here's the short story. my mother raised 2 kids she worked all the time. She was not home when I came home from school. She did not have the time or energy to bake cookies or decorate at christmas except for a tree.. she didn't make things with me ..she wasn't my teacher etc.. yet I grew up "ok" I am not a bad person... but I felt I missed out so I stayed home and was there when my boys came home from school. I baked lots of cookies and breads and I decorated at holidays etc... know what?.. the boys grew up "ok".. but not great because I did those things. I am not saying to stop doing all those wonderful things you do.. but the *pacing* might be as simple as write down all the things you do and need to do and want to do.. then look hard and long at the list... ask first, what can be tossed away forever. ask second, what can be done just once a week, then what can be done twice a week and on down the line.. maybe if they ALL don't HAVE to be done everyday..there might be some time for Debi to take care of herself because you HAVE to or eventually you won't be well enough to do all those wonderful things that you do.

Heather said...

First of all; ((((((((((((DEBI))))))))))

Second of all, I'm going to tell you to do what I tell my kids to do when they get all stressed out/excited/anxious/overwhelmed.

Take. A. Deep. Breath.

Now that that is out of the way. You've gotten such great advice here! There is no Debi-tailored, fool-proof, get it out done way to do things. You're only you, you're only one person, and you're going to have to learn to let go some things. Trust me, an email from you means just as much, nay more, than a card. Yes, you took the time to make the card, but you also took the time to send me an email and 9 times out of 10, I get that email just when I need it. Not to say I don't adore your cards; I do. I use them as bookmarks.

Also, definitely talk to Eva from A Striped Armchair and Becca from Lost in Books. They both have Fibro and I know for a fact Eva knows how to wind herself down when she has a flair up. I think she could provide invaluable help.

Love to you my dear friend. Please take care of yourself. Let me know if I can do anything, even if it's just to cheer you up and make you laugh. XOXO

kreed said...

Oh, girl...I can't even begin to tell you how I wish I had the answer for this one. I have been thinking a lot lately on this very subject. I can SO relate to the feeling of running to and fro just hoping to keep all of the balls in the air. And even though I KNOW there isn't really a magic answer, I simply can't accept it. Surely if I look hard enough or work hard enough I can do it all. Right?!?! Well, here is the answer I have come up with (dramatic pauses and all)...

You know what? No one juggles well. I can guarantee you that any woman/wife/mom you talk to will tell you that she is dropping balls left and right regardless of whether she looks perfect or not. How do I know this? Because I have started to ask. And I haven't found one woman who thinks she has it all under control. We are all trying to live up to this impossibly high standard and not a single damn one of us feels like she does it. Somewhere along the way we were told we could do it all and it is simply not true.

And you know what else? It is not our fault. It is not YOUR fault. THE PAIN IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You have a horrible, cruel disease that is sometimes going to make you hurt and cause you misery no matter how "perfect" you are. You can sleep and walk and eat right and do everything you are supposed to do and even then, sometimes your body is going to betray you.

And what would you tell your friends who didn't get their houses cleaned, or their emails answered, or their cards made or their packages mailed? You would tell them to be kind to themselves and remind them that it is OK - their friends know they still love them and that all of those things can go undone or will still be there when there is time and energy to do them.

Debi, be kind to yourself. In each moment, every day, what you are doing is enough. Don't let yourself believe otherwise. You don't have to do more or be more or prove more. You are phenomenal just because you are you. You are doing enough.

I love you, sweet friend. And I am sending hugs and peaceful thoughts and prayers for pain-free days your way.