Three pairs of feet came through the front door and our usually-peaceful home erupted in chaos. We felt as though rather than escaping the looming hurricane, our family members brought it into the house with them. That chaos would become our norm for the next nine days.
In addition to our household being turned upside down, our son elected to stay in an area that was in the path of the storm. He was afraid if he evacuated, he’d get stuck here and if he couldn’t make it back for work, he’d be fired.
Obviously, I wasn’t happy with that decision, but he’s a grown man and I had no choice except to accept it. He did go stay with some friends who lived in a higher spot and had a two-story house in case of flooding. I guess I don’t need to tell you I spent quite a few nights lying awake praying. I’m happy to report that he was back home, with electricity, by the Monday evening after the storm made landfall on Friday, and he had no damage at all to his home.
Unfortunately, many people were not so lucky, and there were over 1,050 road closures, including major interstates. Our family members who came here were not able to return home until this past Friday, resulting in the nine days of chaos I mentioned earlier.
There were lots of times my husband and I felt that we were stretched almost to our breaking point, but in a situation like this, you just don’t have any choice except to make it work. He’s still trying to recover from pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) and of course, for me, my fibromyalgia doesn’t take a break just because I wish it would. We were both forced to do things we didn’t really feel up to doing or wouldn’t normally do, and of course, pacing was out the window, but we survived, and I was reminded of some things I think I’ve known all along but sometimes forget.
Having these little reminders was like seeing rainbows in the middle of the storm:
- Sometimes being forced to do things you’re uncomfortable with can be a good thing. As I’ve written about before, since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I tend to stay in my comfort zone. I know what I can comfortably do and I’m not often brave enough to push the envelope. Being forced to do some things I wasn’t really comfortable with helped me discover that I’m capable of doing more than I thought I was.
- I’m much stronger than I tend to think I am. For some reason, I think I’ve come to equate my fibromyalgia with weakness simply because I can’t physically do everything I used to do, but this experience showed me just how mentally and emotionally strong I really can be.
- My faith really can be bigger than my fear. As I mentioned, my son stayed in the path of the storm, and I was scared, really scared, that I would lose him. My faith in God (and my son’s twice-daily check-in calls) is the only thing that kept me sane as Florence pounded the coastline for two days.
- The more I do, the more I’m able to do. I’ve always known this, as I’ve seen it in so many areas of my life since I’ve been living with fibromyalgia, but sometimes it’s easy to get comfortable and not try to increase activity levels. In this case, I was forced to do a lot more than I’m used to doing, and believe it or not, I didn’t end up spending days in bed as a result. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend increasing activity levels drastically like I did, but small, incremental increases can add up over time.
- I can still think on my feet. Living with Fibro Fog sometimes makes it seem that I can’t think quickly or clearly at all anymore, but I discovered that’s not necessarily true. I may not do it as often, but I’m still capable of coming up with solutions to problems on the fly if I need to.
- Regardless of how I feel, I can be the calm in the midst of chaos. I spent a lot of the last two weeks frustrated, and I’ve realized my heart is far from where I’d like it to be in terms of caring for others. That’s definitely something I need to work on. Regardless of how I was actually feeling, though, I was able to bring calm to contentious situations or act as a mediator when there were misunderstandings.
There have been lots of times since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia that I’ve thought the “old me” was gone. I’ve felt weak, incapable, unable to cope, etc., but this experience has reminded me, through these little glimpses of “rainbows,” that I’m still the same person I’ve always been, or maybe even a better version of who I used to be.
As I mentioned in my taking a break post, sometimes you just have to put your head down and survive a given time period or circumstance. Once it’s over, though, you often start to see where you’ve grown from it.
Have you ever been through something where you just had to “survive” and then realized it had actually been a growing experience for you? Did you find your rainbows in the storm? Please share!