Learning Acceptance When You Live With Fibromyalgia or Other Chronic Illness https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

Learning Acceptance When You Live With Fibromyalgia or Other Chronic Illness

I knew it wasn’t good when I woke up vibrating last Saturday…. Maybe you’re familiar with this sensation, maybe not…..

It happens sometimes when I’m in a bad fibromyalgia flare. Normally, I just take a recovery day to deal with it. The problem this time was that we were headed down to my parents’ house to celebrate Father’s Day with my Pop and there was no way I was going to miss it. I just prayed that the Lord would give me strength to get through it.

As I showered, tears of frustration started rolling down my face. My body was letting me down again. I absolutely hate that our family gatherings are something I have to ‘get through.’ I love spending time with my family and I resent the fact that this illness makes that a chore instead of a joyful occasion sometimes.

It was taking almost everything I had in me to remain upright, and here I was wasting energy on being frustrated with the situation. It was time to revisit acceptance.

Now, I realize there are people with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses who say, “I will never accept this. I’m going to fight it for as long as I live.” I respect that. If it works for you, I say fight on!

For me, it wasn’t working, and I had to find another way…. When I first found out what was wrong with me, I was convinced I was going to fight it and I was going to win. I would be one of those people who would be cured. The problem with that was that when I wasn’t cured, I started to feel hopeless and stopped really living. Something had to change.

That’s when I learned the real-life truth about acceptance. I had to stop fighting my body, and accept that I had a chronic illness.

Did this mean that I was giving up? Absolutely not!

What Acceptance Isn’t

Acceptance isn’t giving up. It’s not saying that you’re not going to fight anymore. The difference is that you’re not going to fight yourself anymore.

It isn’t a matter of just deciding that whatever happens, happens and you’re not going to try to do anything about it.

Acceptance isn’t allowing yourself to become a victim of your illness.

It isn’t resigning yourself to an unfulfilling life.

Quote on Acceptance from Michael J. Fox https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

What Acceptance Is

Acceptance is, at its most basic level, realizing that you have an illness, most likely one that isn’t going to go away, and deciding that you will work with your body to find what helps you to live, and live well, within the confines of your illness.

Acceptance can mean freedom – freedom to not feel as if you’re having to fight all the time, freedom to try new things – new coping skills, new ways of doing things, new treatments, etc., freedom to find a ‘new normal’ that works for you.

Acceptance is learning to work with your body, not against it. When we can accept the limitations of our bodies due to our illness, we can start to work with it to learn what’s beneficial for us.

It’s knowing that you’re enough, just the way you are. It’s realizing that being ill doesn’t somehow make you ‘less than.’

Acceptance is a lot like forgiveness. Generally, when someone has done something to us and we can’t forgive them, feelings about that person tend to affect our lives in negative ways. When we choose to forgive them, although they’re still there, they don’t hold that power over us anymore.

Acceptance can work in much the same way. When we don’t feel that we have to ‘fight’ the actual illness anymore, when we realize that our more important fight is to have a life of meaning and purpose whatever our circumstances, we can allow ourselves to move forward just the way we are. Although the illness is still there, we have the power to make the decisions that will help us live the life we want to live.

Acceptance Isn’t Final

Once we finally reach the point where we accept our condition and are ready to move forward, we’re all set and we’ll never have to worry about this again, right?

Unfortunately, at least in my experience, acceptance isn’t a ‘one and done’ experience. There are times we have particularly bad flares or when that old guilt, resentment, or feelings of inadequacy crop up and need to be dealt with again.

That’s okay. We just process those feelings, revisit this idea of acceptance, and go from there.

Many of us with Fibromyalgia refer to ourselves as warriors, and I love that imagery. It evokes a feeling of strength, of determination, of resolve. We do fight a battle pretty much every day. Some days it’s just to get out of bed. When we accept our illness, we’re not giving up the battle; we’ve just chosen a new adversary.

How do you feel about the idea of acceptance? Do you find it beneficial? Please share!




  1. I find myself going back and forth between acceptance and anger and frustration. But I keep searching and finding new tools that help
    Make life more bearable. Thx for sharing.

    1. You’re not alone sweet friend! I think acceptance is something we have to revisit often, especially as new symptoms or challenges arise. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thanks so much George! It’s something I have to revisit quite often, but it was so freeing for me when I realized I could just accept my ‘new normal’ and press on. Hope you and Sandy have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Terri, this post helped my more than words can say. It makes my soul lighter when I know someone else gets it and puts words to my thoughts that I can’t make any sense out of. God bless you Terri for being my words today. 🙂

    1. Oh Wendi, you just made my heart grow three sizes…. I’m so glad you found this helpful, and that I could help ‘share the load’ with you today. Sending lots of love and gentle hugs your way sweet friend!

      1. I love reading when I leave truthful comments that it makes you happy! 🙂 thank makes my day……..thank you again Terri, this post was very helpful.

  3. Thank you. Sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks, this blog, your words are what I needed to hear (a reminder). I do know my limits for the most part, which change day to day. I do go through acceptance with frustration. I do have other chronic illnesses as well as Fibromyalgia. I tried the I can beat these, I can ignore these limitations, this pain that can swollen me whole. That didn’t and doesn’t work for me and to the point of self destruction. Acceptance is hard work, a different kind of fight and I at this point thirty years(much longer but left unspoken and really an unknown) later has become A fight to keep accepting me as I am. Guilt oh the guilt for when I state my case to family (mother, sisters) why I couldn’t look after my Mum 24/7 for 48-four days in a row even when short term (6 wks). I did and have not recovered yet but still am expected to but in my hours ( 24 hour care is through just day to day now with VON home are and us). So right now by acceptance has gone out the window as I fight to beat something I know I cannot. This/these chronic illness are not going away, fighting daily is not going away. When I totally accept though there is peace even with all the same issues of fatigue, pain etc… the “fight” is positive then without my guilt that I cannot do as some others.sorry long reply, just one of those days. Thank you for your blog. Cathy

    1. Oh Cathy, my heart hurts for you right now. You’re so right that acceptance is hard work, and it’s something that most likely will have to be revisited time and time again. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with guilt surrounding family obligations right now. That’s so difficult because you want to do everything you possibly can where family is concerned. Please try not to be too hard on yourself. You certainly didn’t ask for this to happen to you, and you have to work within the confines of your physical limitations. Acceptance doesn’t make the pain or fatigue go away for sure, but it can at least help us realize we’re doing the best we can and allow us to be kind to ourselves. Sending warm thoughts your way. Blessings to you!

  4. Very true Terri, acceptance is very powerful, it won’t solve our situation but it takes away the power it holds over us, leaving us open to new perspectives.

    1. Thanks for sharing Marie! I especially love what you said about it leaving us open to new perspectives. That’s so true! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

      1. Thank you Marie! It was a nice weekend and we had beautiful weather here!

    1. Thank you so much! You make such a great point about having to fight on so many fronts – I think it’s nice when we can at least stop fighting ourselves. As you said, sometimes we have to accept that we’ve done our best. Blessings to you!

  5. Teri, you are right, acceptance is needed but can come very slowly. I have other uncurable illnesses so it was a bit easier to say ok take it as it comes. I still look for the lastest treatment to help. I’m doing a trail in a few weeks on a spinal stimulater. I pray it elleviates the majority of my pain as it has with others. Have a great day.

    1. I hope the spinal stimulator works well for you Melinda. It would be wonderful if you could get some relief from some of your pain. I’ll be praying it’s a complete success for you. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend sweet friend!

  6. Well done Terri! THis message is so needed!!! People have such a hard time letting themselves ‘off the hook’ and dealing with what our new ‘normal’ is. I love how you broke this down. I’m going to reblog as is, Terri. My site will link back to yours. Thanks for this timely post! xo

    1. Thank you so much Kim! You’re right; people do have “a hard time letting themselves off the hook.” I know it’s something I struggle with. The whole thing that doesn’t make sense is that we know we can’t help it and still beat ourselves up about it. The human mind is an interesting thing, isn’t it? Thanks so much for the reblog. Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend! Hugs!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Beverley! I love what you say about it helping you feel in control again – I know that was definitely the case for me. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

  7. Hey Terri, I’m sorry I’m a bit late commenting considering I read it two days ago now! I shouldn’t read things on my phone as I can only use my laptop to comment or do anything overly useful 😆
    I’m sorry your earlier Saturday was an awful one, and you’re right about spending time with family should be a joyous time not one you’re struggling just to ‘make it through’. For what it’s worth, I think you did well still going rather than re-arranging Father’s Day. I’m sure he was glad to have you there; how’s your dad doing?

    I have a draft of a post about Acceptance that has some really similar parts to this (like what acceptance isn’t, because that is SO important) but I’ve still not come to finish or publish it. I find acceptance has been a very difficult and a continual work-in-progress – writing about it also seemed pretty darn difficult (perhaps because I felt like a bit of a fraud/hypocrite!)
    I really do think that coming to some form of acceptance, working towards that place mentally, a huge step and of significant benefit in trying to live the best life you can in the present moment.  
    You have said it perfectly!  ♥
    Caz xxxx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I know what you mean about reading things on your phone and waiting to comment until you can get on the computer. I do the same thing; I just can’t do much with the app on my phone or iPad.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one with unfinished drafts sitting in my queue….. I think I’ve got about 10 of them.😁

      Like you, I’ve found acceptance to be extremely difficult, and I don’t think it’s ever “finished.” As you said, it’s a “continual work-in-progress.” We may get to the point where we’ve accepted our illness and then something else throws us back into the “kicking and screaming”😊 stage again…. Just like with the grief process, these ‘stages’ aren’t linear; they often have to be revisited and processed. That doesn’t make us hypocrites; it makes us human, sweet friend!

      Hope your week is off to a great start! Hugs!

  8. Love this post, Terri! Looking forward to following. Allow me to intro:
    I’m new to the chronic pain gig, just 7 months into an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis. My pain is in my feet, tho (+ other 👣 issues). It came out of no where, I was fine one day, then daily moderate pain. No warning.
    Soooo, I’m far from acceptance right now. Anger / Depression is where I sit.
    I’m very active, had an active job, only 51 and told this will get worse.
    I guess I’m still in ‘bargaining’ also, as I tell myself I’ll do everything now and screw waiting to do anything later. That may be (part of) my acceptance (?) Getting some bucket list things done sooner than later.
    Physical things, at least. 😊
    I’m still workin’ on it! 👍

    1. Thanks so much Holly! It’s so nice to “meet” you! I’m sorry to hear you’re joining the chronic pain ranks. It’s probably not a club most of us would choose to join. It’s not surprising that you’re having to fight through the anger/depression; the thing that helped me most with that was to just allow myself to be angry and deal with the emotions that came up surrounding my illness. Once I did that, I was able to start moving forward again. I think the journey to acceptance is probably lifelong, as when we encounter new obstacles or new symptoms we have to revisit it. The good news is, though, that we can find ways to thrive regardless of our circumstances. I’m looking forward to more of your Wellness Garden posts; the one you wrote on inclusive Wellness Gardens was fabulous. Thanks for following — I look forward to getting to know you!

  9. Hello,
    I am not sure if this post will reach you as it’s 2021 and posts are dated 2019. I have been dealing with medical issues since I was 26 ~ I’m 56 now! My husband of 4 years (we were living together for 9 years prior) simply cannot deal or accept sickness of ANY kind. His family never had health issues ( with exception that his Dad died of Pancreatic Cancer when he was 19) So whenever I get sick he is actually MEAN to me: I get no support really, silent treatment if I want to complain about what I am going through, and no sympathy or affection. His behavior is so humiliating that I refuse to tell anyone for fear they will tell me to leave him, etc. I am being tested for Temporal Arteritis and started Prednisone 40mg 2x daily ~ I am a broken woman right now in EVERY sense. I am petrified at the thought of being on it and dealing with ALL the side effects. Especially around my husband. I don’t know what to do…

    1. Oh Gail, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having to deal with so much right now. It can be so difficult to deal with illnesses and side effects from medications, especially when we don’t have the support we need. Praying you will be able to build a support system (your medical team, friends?, other family members?) to help you through this. Hold on to hope and remember, you’ve survived all your worst days so far. Sending you a gentle hug sweet friend.

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