Step 1 unmanagability and powerlessness

November 4, 2013

Having chronic pain is something I am powerless over and can’t always manage.  I have good days and bad days.  The good days make me feel like I am able to function well, I feel healthy, and empowered to accomplish my goals and build relationships with people around me.  On my not so good days, I see the pain and fatigue show up in my life limiting me from doing what I want, but still able to function overall.  On the really bad days, I feel depressed, get tired of crashing, and seek the quick and often unhealthy escapes.

Powerlessness is what happens physically to my body.  Fibromyalgia has a path of its own that I don’t always understand.  Certain activities and situations can draw me into an overwhelming sense of fatigue and pain that at times can catch me off guard.  Though I can limit this pain to some degree by watching my stress, exercising, being healthy, managing activities, it will always be there ready to be activated.  Sickness and unintended stress can sometimes seem to come from no where, causing me to become more aware of this thing inside my body.

Unmanagability is what happens in my life because of my chronic pain.  When my fibromyalgia is in full force my life can revolve around my pain and fatigue and often other areas get neglected.  The more I try to control it,it can just make it worse as too much activity just wears me down.  When things feel totally out of control, I seek to escape this feeling and don’t always have the capacity to make good choices.  I get really tired and can’t  think straight, and don’t always care anymore to make the needed effort.

As depressing as this all sounds to me, seeing the reality allows me to look for a new solution.  I can be aware of what is beyond my own ability, and surrender this to God, a spiritual power, to the earth, to friends, or something that brings a sense of release.  Then I look at what I can do to keep my fibromyalgia in check as best as I can, and prepare for those days where life seems to sweep me under.  Often for me this is finding my support network, reaching within myself and seeking something spiritual.  If something isn’t working, seeking the truth of it, allows me to search for something better.  May today, I focus on what brings me peace and health, and prepare myself for the darker days with grace, wisdom and compassion.

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Step 1 writing on chronic pain

September 12, 2012

Today I decided to start writing a narrative of my pain story that I hope to share on the blog.  I have been putting this off because it is time-consuming and can be painful to look back at the difficult periods in my life.  I am including information about periods of my life when I had physical and emotional pain and my thoughts around it.

I am surprised at how helpful this has been.  I am able to see some links that I didn’t really think about before.  Initially I was thinking I didn’t have much pain as a child, since I rarely missed school.  As I started to write more, I can remember several situations where there was both pain and shame around the pain.

The thought of writing and sharing a personal story can be terrifying.  I can feel the vulnerability of sharing such personal information.  Even though I have been less specific in situations where it involves other people, I am sharing honestly my own thoughts and feelings.  I do believe that the healing comes from looking at the truth of a situation, and being able to think and talk about it without shame.  I hope that each of us can learn to honor and even love the parts of our stories that make us uniquely us.


12 steps for chronic pain – Step 1 Powerless and unmanageable

July 10, 2012
  1. We admitted we were powerless over our chronic pain—that our lives had become  difficult to manage.

I have always found value in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and many of their recovery philosophies.  There have been many situations in my own life where I found that my will and effort alone could not fix a problem.  The harder I tried, the less effective it might be.  Much of these situations had to do with my desire to stay strong and independent and not take the risk of being vulnerable to other people.  I really believed that I could make things better if I did the right research, had the right attitude and gave the right effort.  Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. In some situations and circumstances an addictive element would take over causing me to be more self-absorbed and caught in destructive patterns of behavior.  In these situations it was vital that I learn to surrender and open myself up to the guidance of my spiritual source and other people.

When I first experienced severe chronic pain and fibromyalgia symptoms my life was no longer manageable in the way I was used to.  I found it was difficult to complete daily tasks, care for my children, and deal with the daily pain that would not escape me.  I searched for ways to eliminate and understand my pain, yet nothing worked in the way I thought I needed.  The people around me had a variation of reactions to my new pain, from excessive advice, demands for specific types of treatment, and ignoring my reality to those who offered both love and practical help.  I could no longer nurture my relationships in the same way and they too seemed unmanageable.

The difficult thing with the word “powerless” is that I still have power in some areas, while other things are beyond my control.  I did not choose to have chronic pain enter my world and my will alone won’t make it go away.  I am powerless over waking up at night with pain, having pain spasm when I sit, the pins and needles, the fatigue, or the more intense pain I experience in my back and knees.  I am also limited in that I don’t know all things, what the cause of my pain is, and what specifically could make it end (if there is a cure).  Even if I did all the research in the world, I would never completely know everything about how my body works.  Fortunately I do have options of experimenting with medications, activities and adaptations that might lessen my pain.  I can choose to prioritize my activities, continue self-healing (physical, mental, spiritual), find joy in the moment and give to those around me in spite of my pain.  My attitude and ways of coping will always be something within my power.  I can choose to open up to a new way of living, that brings me down a better path than I imagined.

The beauty of recovery is that the principles will carry you forward even though the addiction/chronic pain is still a part of you.  As with addiction, I cannot live the same way I did before, as this way of living will lead me into darkness.  If I keep searching for what was, compare myself to those who seem to have it better and try to live the old way, my life will be unmanageable.  Though I will pray for complete physical healing, I believe I am receiving greater spiritual and mental healing than I could have imagined.  My pain creates a sense of vulnerability, humility and need that opens me up to something greater than myself.  Recognizing my powerlessness was the first step, the beginning of something more.

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