I Can’t Be the ‘Perfect Housewife’ With Fibromyalgia, and That’s OK

By: Alicia Thompson

I have to admit, I was a pretty unusual kid. I grew up watching cooking shows, Martha Stewart, and “I Love Lucy.” I dreamed of being the ideal 1950s housewife with a spotless home. (I know, call me old-fashioned, but it sounded like fun to me.) I imagined some day making the detailed crafts that Martha Stewart somehow found time for. I imagined cooking gourmet meals, homemade bread, fresh butter and still having time to sew, craft, clean and garden. I dreamed of someday being, well, perfect.

When I finally got my big dream, I planned all the ways I would use my time as a housewife. I was going to keep my home spotless, cook dinner every night and work on fun crafts in my free time. I was finally going to have time to do all the fun projects I had dreamed of. I was going to make our house a home, and I was thrilled!

But it didn’t go at all the way I had planned. (And honestly, I’ve realized that’s OK!)

About a year after I got married, I found out I had fibromyalgia. I had been struggling with fatigue and pain that kept me from doing most of the things I had planned. I found myself spending most days laying on my couch watching TV and dreaming of all the projects I wanted to do.

On my really good days, I’d push myself past my limits and try to do all the things on my list. Again and again, I pushed myself too hard and ended up in too much pain to do anything for weeks. I was so frustrated that no matter how hard I tried, my body kept giving out on me.

It’s not easy to accept that my body doesn’t have the strength and energy to keep up with my ideals. I spent months feeling guilty, lazy and useless. The frustration of letting myself down was probably the biggest hurdle I had to overcome.

So often, those in the chronic illness community discuss the difficulties and frustrations of other people’s responses to our illness. But we combat more than other people’s expectations. Some days we have to combat our own.

RESOURCES FROM NATIONAL FIBROMYALGIA ASSOCIATION

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I finally realized that I need to take a step back and figure out what really matters. My husband assured me over and over again that I was much too hard on myself, but I had a hard time realizing he was right. He doesn’t care if our house is spotless; he doesn’t care if we have fast food some nights; he doesn’t mind that some days all I accomplish is getting out of bed. My friends don’t walk into my house and judge me because it’s not as clean as I think it should be. More often than not, my friends and family don’t even notice the things that I find to be my most frustrating faults.

I honestly had to realize that I can let myself off of the hook. I don’t have to be Martha Stewart. I don’t have to have everything in my life be just perfect. Sometimes we need to just slow down and enjoy the beauty of life, even in the chaos.

My life isn’t perfect. And I’m OK with that.

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