“If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion” Aldous Huxley
It is interesting to look at the similar patterns of thinking and behaving as well as the unique types of emotions that we fibromyalgia people have in common. We are kindred spirits who have somewhat the same bodily and psychic ailments and who are linked to one another, generally with a list of symptoms that are the same. Yet, so many have so little understanding of the root cause of this demon that plagues us.
Fibromyalgia began in childhood! As often as we wish that there will be a magic cure from without, it is not going to happen. Healing must come from within us through reflection about our lives. It is there teasingly waiting to be explored. It is the only way to begin the first step to better manage our days as we learn how it all began- the trauma of our younger years.
In order to fully appreciate the relationship of trauma in our developmental years we must work hard to reflect upon the emotional wounds inflicted upon us when we were very young. This difficult first step is of course the very beginning of an attempt to unravel the root cause of this syndrome we carry on our backs to the detriment of our psychic and physical well being. It is not to suggest that we have all been deliberately abused or neglected by our parents, but rather that early childhood trauma develops from our upbringing. Many see other family members with this anxiety (fibromyalgia) and believe it runs in families- it is in fact trauma that has been passed on. It is a difficult and painful “compassionate inquiry” (term used by Dr. Gabor Mate- See his latest book “The Myth of Normal”) into our past and the relationship we had with our parents whilst at the same time not being into parent blaming.
Most parents love and protect their children and do not deliberately set out to wound us. In my case I was born to a young loving, kind woman but one who was extremely anxious. (I discuss this in more detail in my book “Fibromyalgia: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Dis-ease”.) I knew at an early age that she was not happy and I became her protector, the family worrier and now all these years later I’m so tired of feeling anxious. But I am happy to have completed the difficult part of finally realizing the root cause of my fibromyalgia.
I am prone to catastrophic thinking, overly empathetic, overly caring for other family members to the detriment of myself and the most important of these characteristics I am extremely sensitive (See the work of Elaine Aron regarding the Highly Sensitive Person.) These are the characteristic of all of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I finally understand why I am this way.
The questions to ask ourselves: Were our parents in a good relationship? Was there social stigma associated with our parents lives? Did our parents experience racism? Was our family poor? Most importantly were they (in particular our mothers) stressed/ anxious/ depressed? What was the reason (s)? It was our misfortune to have perceived these emotional traits of a parent as a baby and to take them on as our own. Hence the myth of fibromyalgia as a genetic disease. We do not inherit anxiety, rather it is a biopsychosocial issue which requires reflection on our part to uncover the root cause of our own trauma. It is our parents’ anxiety/stress that has become part of our emotional trauma leading to such invisible dis-eases as fibromyalgia, PTSD, Chronic Fatigue and myriad of other conditions.
Early childhood rearing is paramount to our understanding of how we were raised and the trauma of our developmental years. Addictions, mental illness, obesity, and autoimmune diseases among others can usually be attributed to what we were subjected to in our early years. Fibromyalgia is not a disease, but when the nervous system begins to function erratically , always on hyper alert, and all systems are in disarray, symptoms develop in the body which feel like it is a frightening disorder that will never be quieted.
WE CAN HAVE A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE BUT FIRST WE MUST BECOME A FAMILY HISTORIAN TO UNCOVER THE ROOTS OF OUR OWN EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL FAMILY HISTORY AND THE WOUNDS/ TRAUMA THAT CAUSED OUR CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM TO BECOME COMPROMISED.
Fabulous. Once I realized that this was from anxiety and a disregulated central nervous system I was able to free myself of the symptoms. Anxiety / stress will bring a flare. I’m pretty much symptom free now . I did the emotional work and some weight lifting to reeducate my nervous system to fire appropriately. Been symptom free for 5 years now and I can correct nervous system if I notice a flare coming on . Amazing. I thought I was going to be handicap forever from fibro.
Well Deidre you have certainly embraced the thoughts I have put forward about anxiety. The difficulty as I see it is that the usual patterns of responding to excitement/stress/unresolved conflict etc can linger unless we reflect upon our past wounds and trauma. I suspect you have done so since you have done the ’emotional work’. It is such a difficult task to be in tune with our almost automatic responses to any disruption in our psychosocial environment. Weight lifting was certainly helpful for you. Do you also do mindfulness? This is a very uplifting comment. Best wishes,
It’s really great to find your blog today Barbara. I’m in my late forties and developed fibromyalgia (or possibly long covid) nearly three years ago, a year into the pandemic. I’ve always had low energy levels and pre fibro had pondered if I had sub clinical CFS.
I also realised a little before the pandemic that my relationship with my parents wasn’t as rosy as I had thought after a series of incidents and have spent the last three years learning more about and facing the reality of my upbringing. I now see the high levels of narcissistic behaviours in my parents and other family members and the impact on me. The relationships only ‘worked’ because I was brought up to be a people pleaser. though I believe they did their best I also know I need to protect myself going forward and have very limited contact now. I am also beginning to understand myself better as a result and as mentioned, the propensity to care taking and heightened empathy and being highly sensitive. My anxiety levels were through the roof at the beginning of the pandemic but over the past two years I’ve learnt to manage that and also beginning to understand the fibromyalgia deeper.
It’s difficult and though medication has helped my mom dvand anxiety my pain levels have stayed the same. Weirdly though I do feel like it’s now really allowing me to live the quiet introverted life I’ve needed and be clear on boundaries and saying no more. I’m pleased to find your blog and learn more. ?
Please forgive me for not responding to your comments earlier! There are many reasons why I have been so quiet but I hope that from now on I will be more diligent. You are wise to become conflict avoidant but you might be becoming too much of an introvert? Friends, if not family, can be a source of great support and especially after all those years of Covid isolation. Nonetheless, it seems you have made some great advances about understanding yourself better and the causes that arose from early childhood trauma.
If you lacked emotional nourishment as a child you can find ways now to nourish yourself. Being ‘people pleasers’ is part and parcel of the personality of fibromyalgia sufferers. Highly empathetic, highly sensitive, and not employing self care is what resulted in this demon taking control of us!
Kind Regards, Barbara