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RSVP - When yes changes to NO...

Have you ever RSVP’d a yes for an event, geared up, mentally ready to attend, and then on the day of the event (or sometimes an hour before the event), bam! you can’t fulfill the commitment? Your body had a different agenda. It happens to best of us, but for some reason, it’s a different kind of guilt when it happens to someone with Chronic Pain due to a flare up or exhaustion. My daughter inspired this blog. I had a commitment on one Friday night, but due to an unexpected (as most are) onset flare-up, I just couldn’t muster the strength to fulfill the commitment. It initially started out as a headache earlier that day while at work, then I began to feel the tension in my shoulder blades while driving home. I didn’t think anything of it as I just figured a headache suppressant and a little rest would knock it right out. Whelp, what I thought was just a headache quickly turned into widespread pain radiating down my body and…well hello flare up and goodbye weekend plans! I was home bedridden for three whole days.

You see, this blog was inspired by my daughter because she probably knows me better than anyone on this earth, but that night she said some things to me that made me feel some way. She said “Mom, don’t you think it might be kind of rude that you’re not going to the party? You’re not even trying to push yourself (I was). Isn’t Ms. Courtney going to be mad at you for not going?” As if the slight guilt that was already kicking in wasn’t enough, she certainly didn’t make it any better …sigh! This was after a full workday (not to mention an intense week) and an hour plus drive home on a rainy day. I just paused and responded “I’m sure Ms. Courtney will understand. Unforeseen circumstances happen all the time.” But was it really her questions or my own guilt that had my feelings all in a frenzy. I mean, does she not realize that I’m the queen of pushing through when rest is in order? Tah!

I texted the birthday girl to inform her that I wouldn’t be able to make it and she totally understood. In that instance, I felt a sense of relief. She extended her well wishes and called the next day to check on me. She is my sister in Christ, and she’s aware of my Chronic Pain challenges.

I think my body was forcing me to slow down. Isn’t it amazing how our bodies will do that! I’d been consistently on the go for a few days prior, and I needed a stopping point of rest. As much as I despise flare-ups, for the obvious reasons, I sure do appreciate when my body speaks to me. I can sometimes get so engulfed in life and all of its requirements, that I tend to overexert myself. And my fellow Chronic Pain warriors all know that exertion is not a friend of ours.

So, what are some ways to alleviate the potential of feeling guilt when your yes becomes a no?

1) Pray for a healing and those things on your heart:

~ Pray that God will heal you, physically and mentally, and remove the pain and the guilt you might be experiencing. The word says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer let your requests be known to God” ~Philippians 4:6. God has the power to change all things.

2) Don’t take it personally:

~ It wasn’t intentional (well, on your end anyway), if it were up to you, I’m sure you would’ve chosen the social event over the pain and bedridden state. You didn’t ask for the pain to arise and change your plans so don’t take it personally. Things happen.

~ Neither you or your relationship (with the person who you had to tell no) is validated by your sudden ‘no.’ You must know that you are more. Don’t let any negative thoughts have a residence in your mind and spirit. This is a temporary state/situation that you had no control over.

3) Try to do something positive and productive during the resting time (of course, that’s contingent on your pain level and ability):

~ You can use the time to do some of your favorite things that bring you joy!

Here are some of my favorite things to do while resting due to pain/flare-up:

1) Devotional

2) Reading

3) Journaling

4) Watching my favorite movies with my daughter (We love Christmas movies)

5) Surround myself with all things positive to keep me encouraged

~ Or catch up on the {light} things that the lack of time and busy-ness did not allow you to accomplish before.

4) Change your mindset and don’t let negative thoughts consume you:

~ Why do you feel the guilt in the first place? Maybe it’s because you think you’re letting someone down; or perhaps it’s the thought of what others are thinking about you (She’s always cancelling, she never feels well, she’s lying, she just didn’t want to come). I’ve been mentally taunted by these thoughts (and more) time and time again after having to cancel for an event, so I get it. But don’t let those internal thoughts get the best of you, chances are no one thinks that at all, especially if your circle of friends are supportive…they’ll understand.

~ Negative thoughts and emotions can be harmful to your body. They can cause stress, tension, and depression which can in-turn, potentially add additional pain to your body. Per it’s been proven that positivism and good emotions strengthen the immune system and negative emotions have the opposite effect.

5) Be honest with whom you must cancel:

~ Let them know as soon as you make the final determination not to attend. You can even offer up an “I owe you” date for a later time.

~ You can tell them about your medical challenges if they aren’t already aware (of course, that’s only if you’re comfortable with sharing that information), that way they’ll have a better understanding. Additionally, they may be able to support you when/if need be.

My prayer for us all: I pray that the spirit of guilt will be removed when a NO is in order, especially when at the last minute. I pray that all parties involved will understand and furthermore, know how and when to provide support. I also pray against the feeling of having to push when rest is in order, and I pray that God will continue to provide provisions for mental and physical balance. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

“Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:7

Have you ever had to change your yes to a no due to a flare up or sudden pain? How did it make you feel, mentally? How did the person receive it? I would love to hear from you - feel free to comment below or send me a message via the contact page.

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