I'm having to make a tough decision right now. For the past few years, my husband and I have been involved in an organization that has really meant a lot to us. Our involvement has made us steadily busier, and we've agreed for several months that after the organization's yearly convention (which just concluded), we'd scale down our involvement to a more manageable level.
However, now it's become clear to us that a working relationship between us and someone in a position of authority has become toxic. To do the jobs we want to do, we'd have to work closely with a person we don't trust and who has shown us incredible disrespect.
Some of my recent dealings with this person have been stressful enough to aggravate my fibromyalgia symptoms and I fear that any more episodes like it will threaten my remission. In fact, I had to spend a portion of the convention in a wheelchair because of the stress this person caused and the resulting lack of sleep/increase in pain.
The top priority in my life is maintaining my remission. I was going to say that maintaining my remission is second only to taking care of my children, but since my health is intertwined with my ability to do that, I have to say that my remission is number one. (I'm certainly not saying we can't be good parents when we're severely ill - we absolutely can be - but we all know that it's a lot easier when you're feeling better.)
Still, when I think about how far I need to pull back from the organization in order to minimize my contact with the toxic person, it breaks my heart. I want to do many of the jobs I did for the past year, but I can't. At this point, there's no one to replace me, which makes it even harder. I've made a lot of close friends there and I feel like I'm letting them down.
Putting myself and my family first makes it clear what I need to do. It doesn't make it easy.
I have to keep reminding myself that all of us, sick or healthy, should eliminate toxic people from our lives. If your food were poisoning you, you'd throw it out. With illnesses that are made so much worse by stress, we especially cannot afford to have people around who poison our environments. I have to trust that once I get some distance from the decision, the improvement in my health and my life will be worth it.
I went through a much worse time five years ago, when deciding whether to quit my high-stress job. At least this time, my decision won't mean losing 40% of my family's income! (In fact, I'll have more time to work and could very well benefit financially.) On top of financial considerations, leaving a job can mean giving up something you love and have poured your heart into, and feeling like you're leaving a piece of yourself behind. It also involves the loss of independence and guilt over how the lost income impacts the people closest to us.
What difficult lifestyle decisions have you had to face since you developed fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome? Did the decision help you improve your health and/or functionality? Did it make you happier? What helped you get through it? Leave your comments below!
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