It had happened again, for the fortieth time.
I had saved up my energy for two weeks and looked forward to a nice evening with other humans. Then, something unexpected happened that evening, pushing me over my energy capacity.
It was two mornings later, when the immobilizing “crash” fully hit leaving me below ten percent functionality with Day-1-of-the-flu-like symptoms. It would be another ten days before I returned to my baseline capacity of thirty percent and the heavy fog lifted.
This was generally my life for nearly three years with moderate ME/CFS, a condition where the body’s recovery mechanisms break down following any type of exertion. (I had better and some severe periods throughout my journey).
Woulda, coulda, shoulda
Time after time, I’d analyze the situations which had caused me to crash. A long line in cold weather, a conversation that continued, trying to keep up, an unexpected ingredient.
I’d travel back in time and think about what I should have said or done. What time I should have left or told others to leave. The reality was no situation was ever the exact same…. yet the consequences always were.
On this morning, from the couch, I had been arguing how whispering “I’m ready to go” to my husband should have been abundantly clear to him, then brainstorming what exact words I could have told him, and what the two of us would say next time to let our friends down gently that we needed to go home at that particular moment (9:07 pm).
Realization: I could plan out the exact things I could say or do to stay within my energy zone, but some factor would almost always change. And even if I did plan out the right words or actions, the hesitation to speak them or do them was there.
Tired of the frustration, the blame, and the analysis paralysis…I blurted out “I wish I had a permission slip to just leave!”
A light bulb went off
The a-ha moment flashed before our eyes.
“Why don’t you just write yourself a permission slip” my husband said, reading my mind.
“YES!” I told him.
“And in any situation, wherever you are, you can just use it. Use your permission slip!” he added.
“Exactly! A permission slip from myself.”
An imaginary permission slip to the rescue
I have a permission slip that I can use any time I want.
It frees me from making the perfect excuse when it comes to matters of my health and happiness.
I can use this permission slip if I need to leave, if I have to get up and stretch, if I need to go to the front of the line when it’s cold outside, if I need to tell someone “no,” and, heck, even if I want to send something back.
This permission slip helped me let go of my embarrassment for asking for accomodations (from adjusting the temperature in a Lyft to airport wheel-chair assist), to get over my practical incapacity to say “bye,” and confidently say “no” without hesitation.
I now ask for what I want, claim what I need, and I leave when I’m ready to go, without worrying about the exact words.
It realized it’s not about what I say or do – it’s about being the person who says or does it.
Today, I am in full health and do not need to use my permission slip as much, and it’s because this permission slip to myself is a state of mind.
I am the type of person who puts my health first.
While my permission slip has remained an imaginary one in my head, I’ve written out for you what it represents. It has been key to my health recovery and continued wellbeing.
It’s my gift to you, but really it’s a gift to *yourself.* If you appreciated this post, please sign up for our newsletter below (scroll down this page). There are more good things coming.
Note: If you have severe ME/CFS, I acknowledge socializing is likely not in your current energy zone. If you don’t have ME/CFS, you still deserve to put your health first. Your permission slip can be tailored to your own needs and is what you make of it.