Labor Day for Spoonies

Hello! I hope everyone is having an enjoyable day! If you are fortunate enough to be able to work, I also hope you had the day off as it really should be / was meant to be! Yesterday I attended church (as I have been over the last few weeks) with my friend and the pastor said it was the 125th Labor Day (I’m not sure if that’s correct or not; my vision is not really allowing me to read much today!) started as a way to have a day off to give “thanks to the workers” who made just about everything we do possible. It’s a wonderful idea and although I generally “strongly dislike” 3-Day weekend “holidays” – especially those that are used to celebrate things that they were never really “intended” to celebrate, like the “end of summer” – I think it’s important that we do take a day or however much time feels “appropriate” to recognize the hard work a lot of people do that we can’t even imagine doing that enables us to live the lives that we live. I think this is especially important in this “political environment” (I use that term frequently here as a more “diplomatic” way of expressing my true sentiments regarding the whole … mess … debacle … anathema …) which more or less ignores the fact that many of the people who come here from other countries are here working jobs that most “average” Americans would never dream of taking; many of these jobs require very dangerous and often disgusting work for incredibly low pay – this is true in many parts of the world as well – and I think it is incredibly important that we learn to openly acknowledge this in order to bring awareness to the “issues” inherent within everything such “work” entails (the 15 cent Wal-Mart “basic binder,” anyone? If you don’t know me very well, you might not know that I have been to my “fair share” of anti-Wal-Mart rallies and things of that sort … if there is such a thing as a “fair share” in this regard….). At any rate, that is not why I am writing this post.

I am writing this from the perspective of a “spoonie.” I realize I also owe a post to the definition of the word “spoonie” for all of you who are unfamiliar with this kind of “jargon;” and I do promise that one is coming as well! For now, I will just say the term refers to the idea that hypothetically energy could be measured in “spoons” and where the “normal, healthy” person has what is basically an unlimited number of “spoons” (or “spoons” that can be regained from something like a nap or a cup of coffee), those of us with various chronic illnesses are granted only a limited number of “spoons” per day. I have my own version of the “spoon theory,” but that is for yet another, another post! At any rate, I just wanted to confront two issues today – 1. the fact that it is Labor Day and 2. what it is like to be a “spoonie” who cannot physically work (at least as of right NOW – I fall into that category).

Lately I have been having terrible nightmares. These are not “classic” kinds of dreams – they aren’t filled with death or danger or horrible images but they are more like dreams of “demons” from my past – things that remain just at the edge of my unconscious that seem to creep out when my seemingly bullying brain is sound asleep. These dreams tend to be about the people from my past for whom my conscious mind has little regard – they are not frequently about the people from my past about whom I have regrets or who I miss or who I wish had stayed in contact with me, &c. They are almost always about the people I truly never want to hear from again or about the friends who dumped me like a bag of trash in the dumpster after I became so ill. The actual reason why these people tend to be the “center” of my “nightmares” eludes me – at least when I dream about the people I miss or wish I had been able to spend more time with I can understand why the dream jolts me to the point of necessary wakefulness. Why the dreams that seem to bother me the most and that seem to occur the most frequently involve the people I THINK I care about the least has been a question I have been seeking to answer for quite some time, hoping all the while that such an “account” would, at the very least, keep these dreams quantitatively in check. I have come to something of a conclusion as to the “why;” I suppose only time will tell how this particular “answer” affects my dreams and my sleep.

My “answer” – or at least my RESPONSE – relates to the idea of “rest” on Labor Day. I have noticed that these kinds of “nightmares” tend to come in droves every time I move or there is another soul-shakingly HUGE event in my life. I have recently moved and it has honestly been the first move I have ever “made” that has been fairly “peaceful” (I hesitate even to write that, honestly! I have had more bad experiences with moving and with “bad neighbors” and with TERRIFYING apartments than any one person should ever have!); furthermore, it has been a move from an apartment where the other “tenants” (I believe) made it their mission to keep me up 24/7 to an “apartment” where it is so quiet most of the time I had to put my central AC/heat fan on constantly just to provide enough “white noise” so that the slight noises from inside the other adjacent “apartments” and from outside don’t scare me or wake me from a sound sleep. It is the first place I have lived since living at home where I actually feel SAFE – I actually brought my cat here this weekend after NEVER having him at any apartment or house where I have lived alone (he has stayed with my parents because I have never felt that he was secure and couldn’t get out at my other “apartments.”). It has been a little over a month since I have moved and I have noticed that these dreams are starting to creep in more and more all the time.

As to the aforementioned “answer,” I think these dreams tend to come in times of turmoil and now in times that are ultimately tumultuous (consciously or unconsciously, moving is one of the top three stressors, period … and I have moved 3 times now in the past 9 months….) because my conscious mind is either caught up in the craziness of moving or like now, because things have settled a bit and my “quasi-unconscious” thoughts are creeping out of their hiding places. I think the reason I dream of people from a relatively distant past (i.e., at least 10 years ago) is because before my long chain of moves, I was living with my parents for a long time (I moved back home from Pittsburgh when I became so ill and things kind of just dragged on as time went on until one day I realized a decade had passed …) and one is necessarily isolated in that kind of situation and isolated because of the nature of the disease. I think my brain “picks” the people I really couldn’t care less about CONSCIOUSLY because the human brain LOVES to compare. When I say that, I mean that it seems to be part of our most basic nature to compare various parts of our lives and especially what we LACK in our lives to what others HAVE – regardless of how we feel about these others and regardless of how much we try NOT to compare ourselves with others (I am a firm advocate in training one’s brain NOT to compare and I am, perhaps, a greater “target” for this kind of “blowback” as a result of that). If I know that others that have hurt me and who I never want even to hear about again have things that I WANT and have not yet been able to get because of my chronic health problems, my brain jumps into unconscious “compare” mode. I think this is INTENSIFIED when these “nasty” people are people who ditched me BECAUSE of chronic illness – it is like a multiplier of sorts. At any rate, when I see or hear that these people have done this and that and have gotten married to this or that person and have this kid or went to this place or have this much money, &c., it must overwhelm my “unconscious” mind in an obsessive kind of way. To me, these people don’t deserve being given a penny by a stranger when they need a place to live (sorry if that sounds absolutely horrible …. I have had some really awful things done to me….) … so when I see happy pictures of their “new family” and their “new friends” in their nice new houses, I might consciously want to vomit, but unconsciously my brain goes into that “why not me? You deserve that more than he or she does!” mode. Although when I am awake, I can attack that comparative thought pattern until I am blue in the face and with time and effort I can make progress …. but for some reason, the unresolved issues still linger in my unconscious. All the work in the world I can do can’t just *poof* make it go away. Which brings me to TWO conclusions:

1. I realize these thoughts and horrible dreams will likely fade as I continue to make new friends and build a new life that has nothing to do with these people. I pray that I continue to “get better” because doing so will enable me to “move on” in my own way; to meet even more people and to achieve some of the things I not only WANT but NEED in my life – things that I have not been ABLE to achieve due to being so severely ill for so many years now. This part is completely contingent on action – part of that is up to me (things like keeping in touch with new friends and reaching out and doing things as much as I physically can) and part of that is up to what my illnesses decide to do to me as time goes on. It is the “grey” area Wayne Dyer kind of missed when he spoke about not worrying about what you cannot control because you don’t control it and not worrying about what you CAN control because you CAN do something about it – it is that part of life where you exert SOME influence and where you CAN take some action, but like a prisoner who has been sentenced despite absolute innocence, the amount of action and the kinds of actions you can take are limited by forces completely outside your control.

2. I need to utilize the “idea” behind Labor Day’s creation – that is, REST. Take a mental break. When I say this, I just mean DO NOT LOOK AT THE SOCIAL MEDIA OF ANYONE WITH WHOM YOU DO NOT KEEP CONTACT OR WITH WHOM YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN CONTACTING. If you’re looking at the Facebook profile of an ex-boyfriend from 15 years ago, LET IT GO AND NEVER LOOK BACK. If you’re looking at the Twitter feed of a friend who left you when you needed him or her the most and you never really want to talk to again, LET IT GO AND NEVER LOOK BACK. I do not mean give it a “day’s rest” or a “week’s rest” or any amount of time of “rest;” I mean STOP IT AND NEVER DO IT AGAIN. Even if you LOVED this person – even if this person was, somehow central to your life in some important way, looking at his or her “social media” information is not going to initiate a change in that person or in you. The most it CAN really do – if you are given a set of circumstances which includes an inability to act on an area of your life like work or love or education or friendship, &c., – is consciously ANGER YOU. Further, even having looked months ago at this kind of “information” can keep your “unconscious” thinking about what THEY have that YOU DON’T HAVE for those many months or even longer. THIS IS THE TIME WHERE YOU HAVE TO UTILIZE THE FACT THAT YOU CAN ACT – YOU CAN ACT BY FAILING TO ACT! That is, step away, tell yourself you are NEVER going to look at this person in person or online again, and let your brain try to heal. That is what I am attempting to do while my BODY IS ATTEMPTING TO HEAL so I can go on to achieve the various things in “part 1” that will allow me just to MOVE ON.

And that is my “advice” for myself and for others who might be suffering from this issue, however it decides to “manifest” (for me, in these “nightmares” about people I dislike for very real reasons). I hope that I gave you at least a little insight with all of that and I hope I clarified some thoughts and issues in all of that rambling! I also hope it has helped me, at least a little bit, to move forward and not to look back. Once you KNOW HOW to control the comparison when you’re awake (I’ll talk about that more later here and elsewhere as well 😉 ), it becomes fairly easy – I am learning now, however, that it isn’t so “easy” to manipulate when you’re not CONSCIOUSLY THINKING something like “My timeline is just different.” I hope you have all had a wonderful day, whether or not you “celebrate” Labor Day – I hope you continue to have a happy and healthy day or night wherever you are in the world! As always, thank you for taking the time to read this and please feel free to comment or leave your thoughts / experiences / advice – it is helpful for all of us! Thanks much again and just know MY HEART is ALWAYS with YOU….

❤ Always, Beth

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