Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seriously, it isn't about the jewelry...

I see my last post was dated May 6, 2013.  Almost one year ago.  Wow. 

So, yeah...  I know.  No one is reading this anymore.  Which is exactly why I feel safe enough to post this.

You know those sudden moments of self-realization where you're all shocked and whatnot to see something that's been right under your nose for, like, years?  I just had one of those.  Want to hear it?

Okay.  I have no friends.

Boom.  You've just been Epiffed.  Or I've just been Epiffed.  Or something...  That part's not important.

Here's what happened...  I volunteered to host one of those online parties, where someone you know is selling some lovely crap and you are supposed to convince everyone else you know to click your link to buy this lovely crap and, if you bring in enough orders, you win some of the lovely crap.

This particular party was for jewelry.  It was jewelry I happen to like and the person selling it is a person I like, so...  Why not?

Oh, here's why not:  Years ago, I hosted a party in my house and invited every single woman in my church.  I cleaned like a mad woman.  I baked.  A lot.  This particular party was also for jewelry, but this story isn't about the jewelry.  Two different jewelry parties in a 20 year span is just a coincidence.  The jewelry lady came and we waited.  And waited.  Then one guest showed up and the three of us waited for everyone else to get there.  Except they didn't.  No one, other than that one dear soul (God bless you, Margaret) came.

"I shouldn't take it personally," I thought to myself.  "Not everyone can or wants to buy jewelry."  But it felt personal.  It was humiliating and embarrassing and poor little me felt horribly rejected and abandoned and unpopular.  To make it burn a little worse, not one single woman at church ever said anything about why they couldn't or didn't come (I was left to wonder about it, which I did... for months. "Why didn't they come? ...Was it a decision they all made together, or did all those women individually decide to ditch me?") No apologies, excuses or reasons like, "Sorry, my kid was sick," or "We had other plans that night"  were ever offered.  I would've even happily settled for, "I didn't come because I don't like you."  But I didn't get that, either.  I was simply stood up by an entire church full of women.  I tried not to let it bother me and hoped they had just all been busy.  Time went on and I "forgot" about it (very successfully, obviously).  It was no big deal.

I tried to tell myself I was making friends there but, looking back, I don't think I really ever was.

Fast forward to this past November.  My little boy turned five.  We now go to a different church, but again, we invited all the kids from his class to his party.  Once again, I gave out invitations with every possible way to RSVP known to man- my cell number, my email, how to respond via sign language or Morse Code...  you name it.  No one RSVP'd.  No one.  And?  Only one little girl came.  Luckily she brought her 3 sisters, so he had 4 guests.  He had fun and never asked where his other "friends" were, so it all worked out in the end.  But?  What the heck, people?

That brings us up to last week and my recent attempt at hosting another jewelry party (with a different brand of jewelry and a different sales person).  I thought an online party would be easy and I did it to be nice to the person selling it; helping her get started in her new business, I thought.  No frantic cleaning on my part.  No baking of snacks.  No humiliation or crying jags when no one comes to the door...  Easy peasy.  Just post something on Facebook, send out a few emails, and let people order from home.  Except they didn't.  Which is fine.  But?  One of the ladies I invited to my party posted (the next day!) that she was also having a party for the same jewelry (co-inky dink, huh?) at her house and I saw several people leaving comments about their plans to attend, or at least order from her.  Some of these people were also invited to mine. 

So.  You know.  That was...  Irritating.  Hurtful.  Humiliating.  Does everybody hate me?  Deja vu.   A little odd.  Fine.  Whatever, right?

I have no way of knowing if anyone clicked my link to the jewelry website, but I know my little party didn't generate any orders.  Again, that part is fine.  My life is not adversely affected if people don't wish to buy jewelry, y'know?  I couldn't possibly care less.

So, I promise what happens next isn't about the jewelry. Please understand that.

A few days before the party was to end, I got a message from the woman selling the jewelry; letting me know no one has ordered yet, so if I "could get just three of my friends to order," I could earn some free stuff.

I'd already emailed or posted the link to pretty much everyone I know.  There was nobody else.

That's when it happened.  My little epiphany, I mean.  Along with the subsequent meltdown. 

I realized...  I don't have three friends.  And you know what? Now, here's where it gets So. Very. Embarrassing...  I burst into tears.

 I. Don't. Have. Three. Friends.  Each word dropped on me like a brick. I (sniff, sniff) don't ha... ha... (sobs and gurgles) have three friends!  Think, Michelle.  Think hard.  Do you even have one?  One real friend?

BOOM.  I don't have any friends.  Epiffed.

I should clarify.  I mean, I have friends.  People I call my friends, anyway.  I just don't have Friends. I have my childhood best friend.  I love her.  We have shared memories and inside jokes.  But she lives a few hours away and we rarely talk anymore.  We both got married, had kids.  She has her life, I have mine...  You know.  I have another "best" friend a few states away.  Same thing.  It's great when we get a chance to talk.  We pick up as if time has never passed.  But that rarely happens.  We're both busy with our families.  I love both of these women dearly, but neither is a part of my everyday life.  Neither one would know if I dropped dead, unless my family thought to call them, which they may or may not do (Oh, good.  The happy thoughts are starting.  That should make the rest of this waaay more fun!).

I also have women I'm friendly with, of course.  I mean, I'm not completely antisocial.  I'm sure there are women in my church or in this town who would say I'm nice, or funny, or whatever (maybe).  But they don't really know me and I don't know them.  I'm not going to pop into their minds next time they want a girls' night out or lunch date with a buddy.

There may be a few friendships, but they're superficial friendships.  Not that the women are superficial people, you understand.  I don't mean that.   There are no Friendships.

For example.  I sort of had a "get-together-for-lunch" buddy who lives nearby.  I like her.  We laugh together.  She's a nice person.  But we rarely see each other lately.  Or speak to each other. I used to provide care for her son, but once that ended...  There just hasn't been time.  The last time I contacted her, I invited her to lunch, but she was busy.  So I told her to get back to me next time she was available, then I stopped texting her and waited to let her contact me.  I didn't want to be one of those people who can't take a hint.  And I don't want to beg someone to be my friend, you know?

Anyway, I haven't seen her.

When I say I have no friends, I mean the kinds of friends you don't have to chase or beg.  That's what I want.  Someone I don't have to chase.  The kind of friends who call you to get together, or just to see how you're doing when you can't get together.  Just because.  Because they can't wait to tell you something funny that happened. Or they need help with a problem.  Or they just want to talk.   Someone to count on, who counts on you, too.  Someone who would happily run out and pick up a gallon of milk for your kids because you're sick.  Someone who notices you missed church and calls to see if you're okay.  Someone who knows the real you and loves you anyway.  I know other people have these kinds of friends because I've seen them together.  And I've heard some of my "friends" talk about their Friends; the ones they just can't do without.  They're just not referring to me when they do so.

It seems like a fairly normal thing- this being best friends with someone.  Giving a flip about someone on a daily basis.

But no one is calling me.  That sounds very pity party-ish, doesn't it?  I don't mean it that way.  I swear, the pity party ended and I'm not sitting here getting tears in my ice cream.  That was last week.  It's just a fact.  No one is calling me.  No one seeks me out to spend time with me just because; because I'm fun or because they like me.  If I'm sick and miss church, there will be no phone call offering to make a milk run, or asking where I am and how I'm doing.

And you know what the follow-up thought is when you realize no one is calling to ask where you are or how you're doing?  I'll accept any of the following answers:
  • "No one cares."
  • "I'm invisible." 
  • "I don't matter."
  • "I could die today and no one would notice." (This one is my personal favorite.  Very dramatic and Sylvia Plath-y, don't you think?  And quite untrue.  My dogs would notice the smell of my rotting carcass and alert one of my housemates, I'm sure.  More happy thoughts.  But, I digress.)
  • "Nobody likes me.  Everybody hates me.  Guess I'll go eat worms."  (This last one is a children's song, in case you didn't know.  I wasn't actually thinking that...  But close.)

And that's when the pity party really got going in full swing.  Balloons.  Confetti.  Streamers.  The whole thing.  I hired a band, but they didn't show (Ahh, see what I did there?  See how funny I am in my own misery?)

To be honest, I'd already been going through a little slump.  I was knee-deep into one of my Martyr Moments; feeling overworked and under-appreciated, invisible, and ignored by my family.  So a pity party was probably looming on the horizon anyway.  I'd already been feeling lonely and wishing I had someone to hang out with... just for fun.  Or, more to the point, someone who wants to hang out with me.  The stupid jewelry party was just the catalyst to bring what was already roiling below up to the surface.

And- wow- did it ever come to the surface.  Oy.  After being told to get three friends to order jewelry, I sat in my bathtub and sobbed for a solid thirty minutes.  It would have been longer, but our hot water tank is old and the water turns cold about halfway through filling the bath, so I was crying and shivering.  I got out and cried on the bed instead, where it was warmer.  But, once again, I digress.

At least there was water in the tub.  And I was naked.  It would have been more pathetic and weird in the creepy way if I would have sat sobbing, fully clothed, in an empty tub, right?

It seems funny now.  To overreact that badly over a failed jewelry party.  But what have we learned so far?  It wasn't about the jewelry.  My widdle feewings were hurt.

And whether it's rational, or not- or misplaced, or not- I feel this overwhelming sense of embarrassment and stupidity.  As if, I'm the butt of some cosmic joke.  I feel like I'm in 7th grade all over again and all the popular kids are laughing at me as I walk down the hall (yes, that happened.  Often.  Let's not discuss it).  It's as if, by collectively agreeing not to come to my parties, the entire universe and everyone in it is having a good laugh at my expense.  

Wait...  That can't really happen, can it?

Now, post-pity party, I'm trying to direct my thoughts into a more productive vein and figure it all out.  Why don't I have friends?  Maybe I think I want friends, but I really don't?  I must be doing something to repel people.  But... what?  Is it possible that some people are not as drawn to charmingly caustic, abrasive, sarcastic personalities as I thought?  And why do I even care whether people like me, when I don't have time to hang out with friends, anyway?  Is it me?  It must be me.  Did I unknowingly do something to cause it?  Do I drive people away? How did I get so cut off from other people in the first place?  From life?  Has is always been this way?

Is it my breath?

I feel like I'm a pretty nice person, caustic abrasiveness aside, so I don't get it.  What am I doing wrong?  

I am extremely introverted.  I am (or, at least, I always thought I was) perfectly happy by myself (says the married chick with 7 kids) most of the time.  But it would be nice to have somebody.

I make an effort with people.  I really do.  Effort being the key word.  Putting myself out there to face rejection does not come easily.  Especially when no one wants to attend my stupid jewelry parties.  But it isn't about the jewelry.

How do normal people (or maybe I should just say 'extroverted people') go about making friends?  I mean, really- what do you do?  Adults can't just walk up to other adults on the playground and ask "Do you want to be my friend?"  Can they?  Do they?  If so, I'm probably hosed because I don't think I have the guts to do that.

I try to be open and friendly to others (I think).  I try to be kind, considerate, caring...  All that pleasant, friendship-y crap.  I feel my concern and love for people is genuine.  I try to serve others and meet their needs when I'm able.    So what's the problem?  What else should I be doing?

What's wrong with me?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Come see me!

I'm betting most of you originally stumbled upon this blog because of adoption, and not solely because of my sunny disposition, superior intellect and rapier wit, as I would prefer to believe (those latter two, of course, were the reasons you kept coming back, though- right?).

But my blog, like many of yours, didn't remain an "adoption blog" for long.  It was quickly filled with all the other aspects of my life.  I've talked plenty about being a Christian here- and I certainly don't shy away from doing that, as it's the biggest part of my life- but my faith has never been the main focus of this blog.  In fact, it often gets lost in the sea of stories about my kids and family life, my health, my weirdo sense of humor (which is sometimes inappropriate and very unChristian-y), etc., etc. 

So... I've (drum roll, please) set up another blog to speak specifically about issues of faith.  Not just faith in general, but my faith and what God is doing in my life lately.  I'm not trying to relegate my Christian beliefs to some dark corner or anything- again, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to discuss those things here.  It's just that I realize many of you don't come here to be bombarded with my views on Jesus and/or Obama and I want to be sensitive to that.  You come here for the mad-cap hijinks...  Like when I got stuck in a pair of Spanx, or when I peed my pants a little bit while cooking dinner.  And the thought-provoking, intelligent pieces...  Like when I peed my pants a little bit while cooking dinner (the second time).

If you share an interest in matters of Christian faith, you're welcome to visit me at God Calls Me Honey.  I'd love it if you click on over and help me get the ball rollin,'  although I've just started so there's not much to read yet. 

You're welcome to join me there whether you share my beliefs or not, of course, but if you're not a Christian?  Be warned-- it's going to be All God, All The Time.  Some political posts are bound to wind up there too, I'm sure. It's often hard to discuss one without the other these days.  You Liberal friends will not like it.  Trust me in this.  So please don't come over there hoping to spark a lively debate.  It's probably (hopefully) not going to be that kind of blog.  If you fear that hearing too much about my faith or politics will change the way you feel about me, don't read it.  Simple as that. 

There might be some homeschool-related stuff from time to time, too- since that topic is also closely tied to my faith.  Who knows?  The only thing we can know for sure is that the Spanx catastrophes will remain here.  Do not fear- this blog will stay open so that my faithful readers (both of you) will never have to wonder if I'm trapped somewhere in a sweaty pair of Spanx, about to pee my pants.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but...

Friends, I need your help.  And this isn't my usual goofy crap, either.  It can't always be like a day at Chuck E. Cheese around here, you know.  This is serious.  I have a major problem and I desperately need the advice of my mama peeps (Or papa peeps.  I'm no sexist). 

Please help me.

You see...  One of my sons is heading down the wrong path.  A dark path.  Some might even call it an evil path.  He is rejecting my teachings of right and wrong and choosing to go his own way.  I'm sincerely at my wit's end and don't know what to do.  I hope you can help me.  And who knows?  Maybe being open and honest about my son's struggles will help someone else, too.

Guys, my son has become a booger-eater.  Jeez, I can barely bring myself to say it.  The shame and disgust I feel...  It's just too much.  How could this happen?  How does a mother successfully raise... however many children I have raised- I forget- who have never once let a booger touch their lips (at least not in front of me), just to have the last kid in the batch completely give himself over to the dark world of booger consumption? 

I mean, Good Lord, this kid's getting 3 squares a day plus snacks just by diggin' in his nose. 

Please.  I beg you.  Make it stop.  Somebody, anybody...  Just. Make. It. Stop.

It doesn't matter how many times I say:
"Get your finger out of your nose." 
"That's yucky, honey.  Let's please not do that." 
"I said... Get your finger out of your nose!"
"Please, sweetie. If you've ever loved me, even a little... Get your finger. Out. Of. Your nose.  RIGHT.  NOW."
"Did you see Mommy puke just now?  Do you know why she did that?"

I've even prayed, "Lord Jesus, You turned water into wine.  You calmed stormy seas.  You cast out demons.  Boogers are demonic, are they not, Lord?  Won't you please- oh- please make this child stop ingesting the contents of his nostrils?  Could you make the boogers taste like creamed spinach, or vinegar, or something?  I'll live with the picking, Lord.  I'll never complain again over a simple pick.  I promise.  But the (vurp) eating (vuuurrp... Oh, sorry, Lord)...  I just can't do it.  And P.S., Lord, doesn't the Bible say booger-eating is the unpardonable sin?  ...Because it should.  Amen."

But?  Nothing works.

I've tried, people.  I've appealed to his sense of reason and explained how grosstastically dirty the whole practice is, so he can understand why we shouldn't eat our boogers (Vurp). 

Guess what?!  Four-year-old boys don't go so much for the reason, apparently.  Who knew?  I've also tried scare tactics, like telling him he'll never get a girlfriend that way...  That, too, was unsuccessful.  Go figure.

Truthfully, I rarely have time to say much of anything at all.  The kid has the process down, I'll give him credit for that much.  Fingernosemouth, fingernosemouth...  The finger goes from nose to mouth so fast I barely have time to vurp, let alone utter a complaint (A 'vurp,' by the way, for those who may not know, is a fancy burp-vomit combo kind of thing that can occur with the sudden onset of severe nausea.  If you've never experienced one, you are blessed.  And you've clearly never watched a booger-eater extract his prey and pop it into his mouth).  There's barely a pause in the conversation, like he's not even aware he's doing it.  Question: How can you possibly place a booger upon your tongue and not be aware of it?  I mean, honestly.  There's no thought or effort put into it.  No wriggling around for the best one.  Just fingernosemouth and- boom- done, as if the whole thing is on auto-pilot.  It's a sight to behold, I tell ya (If you can stomach it.  Which I cannot).

I don't know if this is one of those times when God thinks He's really, really funny, or what.  Because me and snot?  We don't mix.  No-siree-bob, I don't do snot very well at all.  Even when it's dried, solid and crusty (vurp).

And it's not like I can say, "Spit that out!" Y'know? You cannot un-eat a booger.  What's done is done.  So, what do I do, guys?  Duct-tape his favorite pickin' finger to his side?  Have you lived with a booger-eater?  How did you make it stop?  Share your experience and wisdom, please.  Will he be over this by the time he graduates from high school?  All suggestions are welcome.  HELP ME!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fibromyalgia for Dummies

Right on the heels of my last post, when I was all super-Zen and warm-fuzzy about decluttering my life, I was smacked down by The Fibro Flare From Hades.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen (I just totally made up that phrase, but I'm thinking it's going to catch on). 

I hurt, guys.  I hurt real bad (said in my Napoleon Dynamite voice...  Does anyone get that reference?), so I've been a little on edge this week.  And last week.  I'm grouchy.  Actually, there is a more colorful word than grouchy to describe me, but I won't say it.  You can toss about your own proper nouns and adjectives as you see fit.

And did I say I hurt?  Real bad?  All I want to do is beat someone with a sockful of nickels.  Is that so wrong? 

I'm at my most creative, you know, when I'm grouchy and in pain.  Suffering produces Genius.  I'm like Hemingway that way.  I'm sure you've all compared me to Hemingway many times.

But...  As usual, I chose to set aside an opportunity to create anything remotely close to Genius and blog, instead.  I came up with this little top ten list for all my fibro peeps, or anybody who knows/loves someone living with chronic illness or pain.  This is the product of five years' worth of anger, impatience, frustration and pain.  It may seem whiny and self-serving, but it comes from a genuine desire to help other people in my position (and also to make some of you shut up... but mostly the first thing).  And who knows?  It may benefit us both by keeping one of us from beating the other senseless. 

Take a look to determine if any of this applies to you.  If so, know that I still love you ...but I'm adding nickels to the sock as we speak. 

TOP TEN THINGS TO AVOID SAYING OR DOING TO SOMEONE IN CHRONIC PAIN, LEST YOU BE BEATEN WITH A SOCKFUL OF NICKELS:

10.  "It's probably this weather (/time of the year)."
You say this because your joints (or ears, scalp, back or butt) ache(s) when it rains, I guess.  I'll admit, I'm being harsh and overly sensitive with this one... But it's because I hear this All. The. Time.  And I've reached the end of my patience.  Look, I know you mean no harm, but please stop asking me if it's the *#%$ weather.  It's not.  It's Fibromyalgia.  Google it if you don't know what it is, because I shouldn't have to explain it to you every-flipping-time it rains.  Here. I just Googled it for you.

To be completely fair, there is some evidence that fibro pain can flare with changes in the weather, in some people. But it is not caused by weather changes, and personally, I don't notice any correlation between weather and a flare.

One of these days, I'm going to respond to this with, "Really, Al Roker? Is it the weather? Maybe it's the phase of the moon... Maybe it's planetary alignment... Hey- maybe it's your breath causing me pain right now."  If you are the unlucky soul standing before me on the day this happens, I humbly ask in advance for your forgiveness. 

9. "May I count on you to (fill in the blank... teach a Sunday School class, participate in the bake sale or fundraiser next month... whatever)?"
There's nothing wrong with this question, right?  I don't mind being asked to "volunteer" for things.  I LIKE to volunteer for things as I am able, and I WANT to participate in life...  as I am able, BUT...  If you're going to ask, please don't get so bent if I have to respond with: "I'll have to wait and see," "I'll try," or "I'll let you know." I'm NOT being vague, non-committal, or inconsiderate, so don't judge or get frustrated. I'm doing the best I can to accommodate you without making promises I'll have to break later. I'm sorry if that interferes with your planning. It sorta interferes with mine, too. 

No matter how much I may want to participate (and I really, really do), saying Yes to anything feels like a lie to me. The only honest answer is "I don't know."  I never know.    Even with my own children, every promise is prefaced with "If I feel good that day, maybe we can..."

Here's the thing...  If you know someone living with chronic pain or illness, that person is living day-by-day.  And that's not by choice.   By all means, invite them to events and encourage them to volunteer or participate.  Just be understanding and don't put pressure on them to commit. 

Right: "We're having a pot luck after the meeting.  I'd love for you to come if you're able."  
Wrong: "I need to know if you're coming to the pot luck and what you plan to bring."
(Obviously, some events require a firm Yes or No and it's not always possible to take a wait-and-see approach to accommodate one person.  I don't expect you to make special allowances for me.  Just don't be so pissy if I'm not able to commit!  If you must have a firm commitment, ask someone who is able to give one.) 

8. "My girlfriend's sister had her some 'o that fibomerralgah... or somethin.  Maybe it was cancer?  She took (fill in the blank... bee pollen, yak dung, cayenne pepper, skunk pee) and she got better."
If we're good friends, I don't mind when you do this.  It shows you care and want to help, and I appreciate that!  But if we're more casually acquainted? Thank you for showing an interest, but... 

You must realize that some of the ideas floating around out there are batcrap crazy, right?  And between the prescriptions, natural remedies, and stupid Internet cures scams I've fallen for out of desperation, I've tried quite a few things. I also try to stay current on the research. If I need any other advice, please let me ask you.

Along these lines...  Please do not ask me which meds I've tried or am currently taking (unless we're really close, or you also have fibro and we're comparing notes). That's a pretty personal question. If I want you to know, I'll tell you. 

7. "But you're ALWAYS tired!"
Why, yes. Yes, I am. You're quite the discerning one, aren't you?  So astute.  See, there's this thing called fatigue... That's part of it. Chronic fatigue, exhaustion, pain and weakness.   Chronic means it doesn't really stop, so that would be a key word, there. 

The problem with this type of remark- aside from the obnoxiousness of stating obvious things- is it's never a mere observation. It's packed with the implication that the fibro peep is not really tired, she is just lazy or making the same old excuse to avoid doing something she doesn't want to do. That's crap.  She really IS that tired. 

6. "Do you think some of this might be, ummm... weight-related? I lost 15 lbs and I feel so much better!"
Really, you little snot?  15 pounds?  That's awesome! Congratulations! Do you have fibromyalgia? Oh...  No?  Okay. Then, wait right here. I have something I want to show you. It's in a sock.  You're gonna love it!



5. "I hear exercise helps."
Um... Yes, it supposedly does. I'll make you a deal: 
  1. Let me run over your leg with my car. Just one leg. No biggie.
  2. I'll encourage you to jog around the block to see if it helps you feel better.
  3. Afterwards, you will have unlimited permission to tout the benefits of exercise while I'm in unholy pain. 
Until then, how about you go for a five mile run... and maybe don't come back?

4. "But you don't LOOK sick!" 
Ummm...  Thank you, I guess...???  Is this a compliment, or an accusation?  Are you simultaneously acknowledging the fact that I look awesome, while insinuating you don't believe I'm sick?  Because that's what it sounds like.

Fibro has absolutely nothing to do with appearance. There's no swelling, no oozing (thank God), no redness, no huge, itchy welts.  I can't help it if I'm able to look absolutely fabulous (snort) while I feel like crap.  Maybe I'm great at faking it?  Didja think of that?  Doesn't mean I'm not miserable on the inside. 

Sure, some days you can definitely see I'm in pain.  My facial expression, being in the same jammies for days, and walking like Frankenstein's monster are clear indicators that I'm having a bad flare.  BUT, looking "good" does NOT mean I feel good. 

THIS is what fibro looks like on a good day >>>. 
Darrell took this picture of me while we were out with the kids.  I didn't know I was being photographed- I was just sitting there watching the kids run around, so he caught my "real" face.  My fibro face.  I wasn't angry or sad.  In fact, I was having fun.  I'm clean, dressed, and out of the house, so- overall- this is a "good pain day."  Notice the way one hand holds the hurting leg while the other tries to hold my weight up off the hard, painful rock.  Don't pay attention to the bad hair- it was really windy and, again, I DIDN'T KNOW I WAS BEING PHOTOGRAPHED.  This isn't a flattering pic and it's embarrassing to share it, but some of you need to see it.  Pain does have a "look."  This is it.

Here is another pic from the same day when I DID know I was being photographed.  Do I "look" sick?

While we're on this subject of what, exactly, looks like sickness... 

Seeing me at the mall today after I was too sick to attend church or some event yesterday does not mean you caught me in a lie- so put your pistol down, Sheriff.  It means I'm having a good pain day (because every day is a pain day- there are just differing levels of good and bad) and I'm happy for an opportunity to get out of my house and get something accomplished while I have the chance.  Maybe you could try being happy for me, too.  Or maybe just pull that big stick out of your... 

Moving on...

3. "I've told you this twice already!" (Or, "You told me this twice, already!")
I'm brain dead, guys.  Chronic pain becomes "louder" than what's going on around you, if that makes sense.  If you have migraines, arthritis, or other pain problems, I'm sure you can relate.  Pain takes up all the space in your head. You get stupid.  Unfortunately, my stupid is long-term.  They call it Fibro Fog. And I hate it. As much as the pain itself.

I used to be halfway smart, you know.  And I had an amazing memory.  Uh-MAY-zing.  Not Marilu-Henner-amazing, but amazing.  You could come by, all apologetic and sheepish over the 20 bucks you thought you owed me, and I'd say, "No. I specifically remember you paid me back already. It was a Tuesday, last April. You were wearing a red and white shirt.  I was playing Def Leppard (cuz I'm awesome). We were standing in my kitchen, talking about the economy, and that reminded you of the $20 you owed me. You took two tens out of your purse.  The purse was black with a silver clasp.  One of the tens was all wrinkled...  'Member that?"

...And now? I sit in the corner and eat paste. Then I blog three different times about the same paste-eating incident.  You could tell me I owe you $20 today, even if you know I don't, and I'd probably say, "Ok... Have you seen my purse? ...Do I own a purse? If I give you these 7 quarters, will that equal $20?"

And you would say, "Sweetie... Those aren't quarters. You're holding 2 Rolaids, 2 strawberry cough drops, and what appears to be the button that once held your pants closed. Did you know you're pants are hanging open?  Quarters are silver, hon. And you'd need two more things to equal 7... But good job! I'll ask Darrell about the $20. Go back to your paste."

2. "Have you thought of talking to somebody?" "Maybe you're depressed?"
Oy... Oy, oy, oy.  I'm adding more nickels. I mean it.  For one thing, the words 'talking to somebody' or 'depressed' are always said in a stage whisper, as if the subject is shameful. For another thing, the 'somebody' to whom you refer is a psychiatric professional, obvs, which is meant to imply my "pain" has an emotional or mental cause, and is not a "real" physical illness.

It's not that I think I hurt. I really, honestly hurt.

Depression is a serious thing- and just as real as fibromyalgia- so I don't mean to discount it. There are some similarities and overlaps between the two conditions. Fibro patients can and do become depressed. Of course they do. Being in pain 24/7 isn't fun. But the pain didn't come from the depression- it's the other way around.

And? I'm honestly not depressed.  So please stop asking me that.  Good Lord, peeps.  Actually, I consider myself to be a pretty happy person.  And considering some of the crap we've gone through in the past few years, that's a rare and unusual thing.  Let me have it.  Quit trying to squash it. 

Think about it, guys... I've discussed my pathetic, poverty-stricken state, and the twin I absorbed as a fetus, aka my goiter-sized double chin, aka Chaz Bono- in the same post.   I've told you about marital woes.  And kid troubles.  I may have- during a moment of weakness- mentioned peeing my pants, but we pretend I didn't, so we don't post links to the evidence. I've shared thoughts on my jumblies- as if you'd ever want to hear them- and my Spanx-related fiasco...   These are deeply personal things, peeps.  Things that normal people try to hide.  Do you really think Depression would suddenly cause me to feel shame? That's where I get embarrassed and finally draw the line???  Pffft.

If I suffered from it, I'd probably tell you. Dontcha think?

The judgment and disbelief from morons who took an Intro to Psych class at a community college in 1993 make me depressed. Is there someone I can talk to about that?

1.  Playing "I Can Top That Pain!"
This is the same game women play when they start swapping labor and birth stories.  There's always a scuffle over who takes the prizes for Longest Labor, Hardest Labor, Most Disgusting Tear/Episiotomy, and so on.  Know what I mean?

People love to play this game with fibro, too, making statements like:
  • "Oh, yeah, I had something real similar last year when I (fill in the blank... pulled a muscle/twisted my ankle/whatever).  It was excruciating."
  • "Insomnia? Yeah, I have that, too. I went to sleep at, like, two this morning."
  • "Chronic pain? Tell me about it! Try sitting at a desk all day! Boy, does my back hurt!"
  • "My daughter has arthritis, so she REALLY hurts."
That last comment about the arthritis was made to me (in church!) by a lady with a big smile on her face, after she asked me how I was doing.  I made the mistake of giving her the honest answer that I wasn't feeling very well due to fibro pain.  And she REALLY made me mad.  I wanted to respond (in church!) with, "WTH does that mean?!?  'REALLY' hurt?!?  Are you flippin' kidding me?!"  But I didn't. 

It's not a contest, guys!  As a general rule, it's never a good idea to compare your pain to another person's, unless you personally know how their pain feels. It belittles that person's struggle when you compare her pain to something small or temporary, or contrast it with something that "really" hurts. That's insulting and rude. And obnoxious.  And the apex of assiness. 

I really do hurt. I promise. I'm not quite devious enough to mastermind this five-year long scheme in which I fabricate an illness or exaggerate pain just to steal the spotlight from your daughter's arthritis.

And... If you think you know what fibro sleep is like... Ya don't. Especially if you confuse the word 'insomnia' with the phrase "night owl." Staying up until 4 a.m. watching TV, then sleeping in until noon is NOT insomnia. It's what I call a solid 8 hours of sleep.  Fibro peeps do not sleep like you do.  There is no comparison.  So if you really want to make it a competition?  You lose.

Listen, I know life isn't all about me.  I know there are other, bigger things going on besides my piddly-a*$ pain problems, but you know what?  It's not all about you, either.  I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed to talk about your own aches and pains, or constantly be subjected to my litany of complaints.  In fact (in real life, anyway- not on this blog), I try very hard NOT to do that.

But I shouldn't have to "prove" my pain to you or compete over whose pain is worse.  That's all I'm saying.  People with unseen illnesses don't want your sympathy or even need your empathy.   But would a little validation kill ya?

And there you have it.  The main point to take from this is...  People are idiots (Nooo, I'm Kidding!  Sort of). The point is- Just do unto others as you'd have them do unto you (another phrase I just came up with that I believe will catch on). 

Be willing to learn more, care more, speak less, give the benefit of the doubt.  Avoid stupidity when you can help it.

Choose compassion.  And avoid the sock.