Everybody’s tired, Dave

(Red Dwalf, anyone?) Rose is tired, lugging around a moon boot and crutches, I’m tired working a lot of hours and not getting enough down time, the weather is hot so even the pets and plants seem tired. We trekked off to have Rose’s ankle cat scanned today, a friend kindly came round and did our dishes as my birthday gift (I’ve been saving that coupon for awhile) we’re trying to figure out what we can do about the Christmas gift situation as Rose is broke and won’t be able to earn money until next year sometime when her foot starts cooperating again, and I bought some stone fruit from the local market, which was lunch.

Rose is currently trekking around the kitchen in her keenness to be useful and making dinner for tonight (roast) and soup for the next few days as it’s forecast to reach 40C here this week and during that weather I do not run the oven under any circumstances. I think she’s mad and keep trying to persuade her to put her moonboot back on (too hot and heavy) or use her crutches (hurting her underarms and really inconvenient) or let me help (…) but sometimes one just has to shut up and go blog instead of trying to be sensible.

We had a funny little moment a few days ago when the reality of weeks off work and needing help to do basic things like shower suddenly hit Rose like a bucket of cold water. She said to herself with some shock “Oh gawd, this means I’m going to have to be careful and think about everything I want to do in terms of how much energy it will take and how much pain it will cause!” I was driving at the time and just gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and smiled to myself. The penny dropped and she looked at me, we both laughed. I’ve had fibromyalgia, endometriosis and other chronic pain conditions for more than 10 years now. It’s rare for me to not be in pain already when I wake up in the morning and for pain not be present, significantly, when I go to bed at night. Sickness and exhaustion are common parts of my life.

There’s a cool little explanation going around the net called The Spoon Theory. Trying to explain chronic pain and fatigue to people who have not been sick is always difficult. This approach is great, although to me it has one obvious limitation – that is the assumption that all of life is about giving, or using up, energy. I’ve spent a lot of time around people who think like this and for me, it doesn’t work.

People are not finite supplies of internal resources that recharge overnight only to be spent again every day. We are parts of much greater wholes, members in complex ecosystems where energy flows in and out and between every part. Some things take almost every bit of energy I have available to do, and yet in spending it, I am recharged. Not just resting, but meeting crucial needs for closeness, meaning, belonging, love. My volunteer work costs me much energy and yet gives me so much back. Relationships can be exhausting but are also a source of deep joy. Being involved, living, learning to re-interprete pain and exhaustion not as cruel bad luck, but as the cost of being alive, a price I willingly pay to live a life that is deep, passionate, abundant, and vital. Learning how to go gently and get out of the boom-crash cycle of spending energy into the red and making yourself constantly sick is incredibly valuable. But beyond that, conservation becomes miserly. Pain is part of being alive. Spend your spoons wisely yes, but do spend them! Be part of things that give you spoons back.