“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mourning Me

I know that one of the worst things you can do when you have CFS is to compare yourself with others. Sometimes it's hard not to. I see my good friend, the mother of a big family, and she has the energy to do it all -- she's up an hour before her kids are, they read scriptures together, they say family prayers, her house is reasonably clean (did I say she has a big family?), she's thoughtful and always available to serve others, she opens her home to her kids' friends. It's easy to feel slight when I compare myself to her. I think, "Well, if I had the energy, I would be great, too!"

But, there's someone else I compare myself to that is even harder on me. That's when I compare myself to the old me. And to think I used to be so hard on myself! Right before CFS came crashing down on me, I was nearing Superwoman status. I loved my church calling -- I was the Primary President, in charge of the children's ministry and overseeing an organization of 60 kids. I loved all the aspects of the calling, and I did it well. I enjoyed the compliments and support I received from people who appreciated what I was doing for their kids. It was a great source of pride.

With my kids getting a little older, I was venturing out of the house and doing a little more for myself. I was making a little money for myself as a consultant with Home Interiors. I was getting quite good at my demonstrations and parties. After so many years of being immersed in children, it was so refreshing to be out among adults again.

I was dabbling in interests of my own. I was joining some of the small interest groups my church has to offer. I was going to a book club and a gardening club. I participated in cooking demonstrations. I tried a scrapbooking club (it only lasted one time, though).

My house was reasonably clean. I took pride that it was sometimes cluttered, but never dirty. It was never further than an hour of intense labor away from looking good and inviting again. I could entertain people, although I only did it once or twice. I even threw a gigantic surprise party for my husband's 40th birthday.

Speaking of birthday's, I was there for my kids. I could throw together fabulous birthday parties -- nothing extravagant, but certainly creative and fun. I was available when they needed to talk. I helped them with school work. I was always coming up with programs for discipline and cleaning and leisure time, and I stuck to them. I read bedtime stories to my boys.

I took care of myself. I planned menus and cooked healthy meals. Not everyday, of course, but often. I exercised regularly. I looked good! I was in great shape for a mother of six at my age ... and I was moving towards being in great shape, period. I felt good.

Little by little, I saw all of that stripped away from me. It was crushing when I reached rock bottom. At the bottom of the crash, I was nothing more than a zombie. Getting up before noon was my most major accomplishment. I forced myself to do the bare minimum, but I couldn't do anything else. My house became a disaster. I spent hours on the computer, oblivious to anything around me. I no longer spent time with my kids or my husband. We moved to easy, prepared meals. I stopped exercising. I couldn't get out of the house at night, so gone were the Home Interiors parties and my book club. I was released from my calling, and although I cried, I knew I couldn't do it anymore. I stopped going to my gardening club, because I couldn't keep up with even minor gardening tasks. My family was hurt and bewildered, trying to be supportive, but I felt their unintentional, never-spoken accusations. Still, I couldn't do anything about it. I know it sounds like depression, but it was not! I've been there before, I know what it feels like. It was just that I was too tired to do anything.

It hurts to remember the old me. It also hurts to remember the rock bottom me. I'm in the process of creating the new me, but it isn't easy. It still feels like I'm trying to run through quick sand. My greatest accomplishments are the tiniest victories ... but still, at least I'm starting to have victories.