Last week, my husband and I got home from shopping and I asked him what he wanted me to carry in. He said, “If you can get the clothes, I’ll get everything else.” Later, I realized that a year ago, he wouldn’t have said that to me. He would have told me to go on in the house and he would get everything else. Inside, I did a little victory dance! You see, a year ago he would have thought I was too tired or in too much pain or might hurt myself carrying bags….. For him to see that I’m able to do some of these things for myself again means that he can see I’m getting stronger. There are still many days that he tells me to let him get everything because he can see I don’t feel well, but in letting me help when I can, he’s acknowledging my progress. That’s a great feeling, because often in the day-to-day, I don’t feel I’m making any progress at all, and in fact, might be going backward.
The other day, I was standing in the back yard, looking up at the old oak I call the Grandpa tree and it reminded me of the realization I had had about my progress. That tree has to be ancient, because it’s absolutely enormous. It towers over all the other trees, and in the Spring and Summer casts its shade far and wide. It didn’t start out that way though. It started out as a tiny, hard acorn.
It took many, many years for that tiny acorn to turn into the mighty oak that it is today. As it grew, there were probably times of plenty and times of drought, it may have suffered damage from insects from time to time, and there could have been other events that slowed or even temporarily halted its growth. Even though there were setbacks along the way, it kept growing until it became the thing of beauty it is today. You see where I’m going with this?
Sometimes with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses, we feel as if nothing we’re doing is working, we’re not making progress, or we’re even going backward at times. It can be easy to become discouraged, especially if it’s early in your journey with your illness, when you don’t see any progress. It’s natural to want to see immediate results from your self-care efforts, especially when you embark on those efforts to try to feel better, but our bodies don’t always cooperate. When dealing with something like fibromyalgia, improvements are not linear; they’re more like the tree rings – sometimes progress is faster like the growth that produces the light-colored rings and other times, it’s slower or temporarily halted, like the dark-colored ones.
Just because we don’t see results doesn’t mean that nothing is happening though. Our bodies are amazing machines and when we take care of ourselves, give our bodies proper nourishment and rest, and work with our medical team to find the treatment protocol that’s right for us, our bodies get busy working to support our desire to live well in spite of the limitations of illness. Progress doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.
Yes, there will be setbacks, and there will be times we don’t feel we’re getting anywhere, but those are the times we just have to trust the process and continue our self-care efforts.
It may not happen tomorrow, or next week, but sooner or later, we will have one of those moments where we realize we’ve just done something we wouldn’t have dreamed we could do before. Like the Grandpa tree that weathered all the hot summers, cold winters, storms, growth and lack of growth, with time we have grown and changed, and are able to say we are living well regardless of our circumstances. Our tiny acorns have become mighty oaks!
I hope this encourages you to stick with your self-care plan, whether you’re seeing results right now or not. You’re worth the effort!