Sunday, 15 May 2011

Day 15 - knowing when to rest

Photo by Michael S. Wright

I was one of those kids who was always on the go. The fact that there was little space in the flat I was brought up in might have contributed to this attitude. I loved spending holiday times in Sicily because there were spaces I could hide in and read, but I had a hard time with the enforced resting time in the afternoons, when it was considered too hot for anything but sleeping. I didn't change much over the years. When I needed to rest I would crash, sleep for a day or two and then start again.

In my 20s I started to get sick a lot, I came across late-onset asthma and eventually was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I really tried to slow my pace but I have not been incredibly successful so far. One of the challenges is that avoiding flare ups seems to require of me a delicate balance of exercise, attention to nutrition, self-care and rest. Often I don't know whether I should 'push myself through' one of those days or moments, or if I should be kinder to my body (well, that would be myself actually) and rest. Lately I am worried that I have leaned towards the former solution, rather than respecting what I need, that is more rest. One of the stories I have trouble challenging is that "maybe deep down I am lazy". No matter how much I know this not to be true, sometimes I think that maybe, if I push myself just a little bit more, then I will achieve whatever it is I am after (productivity, less pain, better gmail management, etc.).

It is such an easy trap to fall into. After all isn't that what so much overculture is about, especially here in the US? The message seems to be, if you work hard enough, you will be rewarded and achieve happiness (and wealth, get the girl/boy and live happily ever after). Right? If I am feeling sick, overwhelmed, or plain exhausted there must be something wrong with me. Suddenly, whatever I can contribute no longer seems to matter, if I cannot keep up with the absurd, ableist demands we place on ourselves and others. The problem is that sometimes I don't want to keep up, but rather I want to be respectful of the wisdom of my body, my own wisdom. I want to feel that I don't need to meet whatever standards I have set for myself to prove that I can keep up with non-disabled people. Before I can do that, though, there is so much internalized ableism that I need to challenge to finally know when to rest.

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