The last six months has been hard and tiring, and I am now back in the midst of hard and tiring as we prepare for a major event at work.
2019 has barged in without even knocking, somewhere between the cleaning and organising and resting of holidays and the cleaning and organising and resting of just getting through the weeks.
This year I have made one resolution — to go on a proper holiday. I am already laden with expectations, burdens, guilts and worries, so didn’t feel like the New Year was an occasion to add something new to the mix of things I should be doing. Trust me, I already know, and I beat myself up for it all the time. But I need to take a proper break. And I need to remember the old me, the one who was adventurous and travelled, before she is completely lost.
But even that single resolution has proved angst-inducing. With my mum still so sick, there’s this lingering feeling that picking dates or locking something in will inevitably cause some Huge Problem right at that very time. And it also feels mean — what right do I have to be looking at Pacific island destinations while my mum is being destroyed every few weeks by chemo, tethered to the couch by fatigue and dizziness as she loses her hair, nauseous and with every bone in her body heavy and burning? Is it fair to go on a holiday when my parents haven’t taken one in years? Shouldn’t I be saving, or trying more and more ways to fix myself? It has unleashed a fiesta of guilt.
So I still haven’t decided anything or booked anything. Work is beginning to breathe down my back for having excess annual leave, but it’s not like I haven’t gone on leave in recent years — it’s just mostly been for shitty things that fall into that other category of ‘personal leave’.
While I am still umming on a holiday, one thing I have decided is to try to get regular massages, and I have found a woman who does extremely tough Chinese massages. She has the kind of magic hands that find the pressure points and knots, no matter how deep they are buried. You don’t need to tell her which bits are sore or tight — she finds out. Relaxation massage it is not, but it does what it is supposed to. I leave in pain for days after, often with marks, but at least it is ‘good’ pain, not the stupid and non-sensical ME/CFS pain of dull aches, cramping calves, heavy muscles and weird nerve sensations, but the pain from something that should actually logically be painful — a petite woman elbowing the absolute crap out of you. And in this illness, anything logical is a goddamn blessing. Once the initial pain has passed I feel like I can move more, like the old days, but it doesn’t take long for things to start to become tight again even with me trying to stretch and so on to prevent it, so going regularly is going to add up.
Again the guilt comes in. Isn’t this an elaborate thing to spend money on when I should be saving? But each knot she shoves her elbow into makes me think of what I’m carrying, and while it may be in her interest to say so, my masseur is of the opinion that my body is somewhat messed up. No wonder though. That shoulder knot might be from the guilt that I have had to come back to work and am not there to support my mum through chemo. That stiff hip flexor? Maybe it’s from working full-time emotionally while being part-time on the payroll. Hamstrings bunched up from knowing that I am constantly being judged and pigeon-holed because of my weight even though the only advice anyone can give me now is ‘how about don’t eat barely anything’. Those tight trapezoids are definitely from accidentally opening the comments on any article about CFS, or on any article at all really. Hammys all jammy from shifting awkwardly when people look at me like I am a depressing freak for daring to mention my mum being sick, or for uttering the name of my own illness. Oh and that clunk in my rotator cuff? Maybe that’s where I shoved my biological clock to try to shut it up.
So I now pay to quietly get beat up once a fortnight without uttering a word or a yelp.
‘You’re very good!’ my massage therapist says as she forces her entire bodyweight into one small spot in my upper arm, which will later turn a deep purple. ‘You take the pressure.’
Post image from alyserurianidesign