There are many things than can trigger fibro symptoms, the weather, bad night sleep or doing too much. The biggest cause for many of us is stress. This could be work stress, home stress, emotional stress, stress caused by confrontation, it could be anything.
I’ve never been good at confrontational exchanges, no matter the circumstances. A waiter brings me the wrong meal and I smile and say everything is delicious. Someone is rude to me, I don’t say a word, then cry all night. I live in constant fear of confrontation, criticism and arguments. I can sit behind a computer screen or type complaint emails from my phone without a problem. I consider myself able to eloquently but strongly convey disappointment but only when I have time to think. Like many people I often think of a good way to win an argument when I’m struggling to sleep, I think of all the points I’ve missed, I pick apart and scrutinize what I said and realise there were about a hundred different things I could have said that would have been better.
A few weeks ago I found myself in a confrontation with James *. I’d been there before, this was not a new situation but that didn’t make it any less traumatic. Everyone knew James was volatile. He had a habit of taking misunderstandings or slight flaws and making them seem apocalyptic. He was an unexploded bomb, just waiting for the right moment to cause maximum damage. People tiptoe around him fearing he would erupt and take down everyone within a mile of the explosion. The moment he began to interrogate me I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. This made me feel weak. I hate crying and I hate crying in front of people even more. I felt this gave him power over the situation. I fought them as best I could but before long tears were tumbling from my eyes like a waterfall.
I was a mouse and he was the lion. I felt small. I felt weak. I felt afraid. He took anything I ever felt insecure about and threw it back in my face and any confidence in my ability crumbled to the ground. He took a wrecking ball to my already weak self-esteem, I never stood a chance.
He told me I was lazy, I was fat and that the pain was all in my head. He told me fibromyalgia didn’t exist and that it is “fashionable” to have it. That hurt the most. Anyone who has suffered the extensive tests and countless doctors appointments before diagnosis will understand the fear of not being believed. Almost all of us at one point felt like we were going mad, we made it up, it was in our head. The moment the doctor gives their diagnosis is overwhelming, the feeling of relief that we didn’t imagine this pain is indescribable. Using this deep routed fear against me was cruel. If he wanted to take all my emotional strength, he succeeded. Well almost.
My support network of friends, family and my boyfriend rallied around me. They were there when I cried. They found ways to cheer me up, and they told me everything James had said was a lie.
However he caused much more than emotional pain, he caused me physical pain. After finally reaching the end of a long and horrible flare up he set me back almost to the beginning. My stomach started cramping, I felt sick. I was dizzy and shaking. His cruel criticism had left me unable to cope once again.
I’m happy to say I’ve bounced back from this confrontation and I’m doing well, thanks to the support I received. I’ve forgiven James but no longer see him. What he did was unacceptable but holding on to the anger and hurt allows him to still have power over me.
Writing this post may seem like I’m not over what he said, and it’s true that I will never forget it. But I wanted to draw attention to how people’s actions effect others. He probably felt better the day after, whereas I was left scared, depressed and in pain. His ‘bad day’ caused me real physical pain. Whether he believes the pain exists or not, I know it’s real, I’m the one that can feel it, not him.
So please if you have a bad day try not to lash out at the people around you. You may forget about it in a week or so but the repercussions for the other person can last months or even a lifetime. This post isn’t a way to get back at James, just a way for him and others to look at the way they treat others and think of the damage they may have done.
*James is not their real name. There is no information in this post that could reveal their identity.