Stress and How It Can Make You Sick… Forever

This story has 2 parts, both of which you can read here. I wrote it this way to show what life was like for me before I discovered I have Fibromyalgia. I will tell you about my first symptoms, and I will tell you about the biggest ah-ha moment of my almost 50 years. Please enjoy.

Part One

It was 1984 and I was 21 when I met the man who is now my ex-husband, and I was 24 when we got married. He was 26, divorced and had 5 kids. I had one too from a previous relationship. We met through a mutual friend who introduced us because I was, lets just say, on hard times and he needed a babysitter. He worked nights and his mom wasn’t very far away, but she couldn’t keep the kids at night.

So I moved in to babysit, but that didn’t last long. Within a month we were involved in a relationship. He was handsome and such a good father. It was a struggle raising 6 kids at 21, but I never thought about it, I just did it.

The first year was bliss, or as close to bliss as a relationship can be with 6 kids around. I was young, energetic and barely an adult, but I managed to bathe, feed and get chores done every day.

After the first year or so, he started losing his temper. He was always a strict but good father, and in no way was he abusive to the kids. He lost his temper towards me. He would be mad if I didn’t have lunch ready on time. Since he worked nights, I would cook at lunchtime, he would take leftovers for supper, and the kids would eat the rest for their supper.

So lunch had to be on time. No big deal. Then one day, I didn’t have all the laundry folded when he came home. I had to explain what I had done all day, where did I go (with no car)?

I quickly learned not to take down time during the day. I also learned through time that the towels had to be folded a certain way, the can goods had to be lined up just so. The socks had to be folded and clothes hung right. Well, HIS version of right anyway.

I was young, stupid and in love. I thought he was that way because he liked a clean house. So, since I didn’t work outside the home, it never crossed my mind to object when he said something wasn’t right, I just fixed it and did it his way from then on.

Sometimes he would fuss at the kids for this or that, so I learned to make sure everything was just right when he came home. I would tell the kids “make sure you do this or that so our dad doesn’t gripe about it later.” Eventually, when I would tell them to do something, the kids starting asking, “why, is Daddy coming home?”

We moved to another town in 1997 to live near his relatives. By this time, the two oldest, who were boys, were on their own and the next was in the army, straight out of high school. So, we moved to the new town with a high school senior, a sophomore and a 1st grader who had come along in 1991. We bought a really nice brick house on 5 acres with a barn for a horse and a shop for racecars. The 1st grader loved horses and her dad loved racecars.

The youngest had never seen his abuse and control. She didn’t know that by this time in our marriage he had hit me on 3 or 4 occasions. Somehow, we had managed to keep it from her. I think she is the only one who never felt his control; I know the older kids sure knew everything that had happened. I think it was in part because of them that the youngest never knew. When trouble would start, they would take her outside to play ball in an attempt to shield her from the truth.

I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere without hearing a thousand questions later. If I went to buy groceries, I always had to take one of the older kids with me so they could babysit me. If I was in public with him, I had to look at the floor so I wouldn’t have to say hello to anyone. We lived in a small town, so I knew a lot of people from the schools and from work. It was difficult to go anywhere and not see someone I knew.

If I accidentally made eye contact with a man I knew, I would catch hell if he happened to say hello. All I could do was nod a greeting. And he would always accuse me of having sex some other guy. If I said hello to a woman, he would ask, “Where do you know that bitch from?”

Working was hell while being married to him. He was suspicious of every boy or man who crossed my path. I had friends, but not ones I could ‘hang out’ with. I couldn’t go to movies or anything. He had to control everything I did.

I was so naïve. I didn’t know he had control issues. I thought he was normal, that our life was normal. I thought he loved me. After all, we had a nice home; I always had a new vehicle to drive. I had nice clothes; a gym membership and the kids had what they needed and most of what they wanted.

Then I got a computer. He didn’t care, believe it or not. We could afford it. I got Internet access, dial up of course. Geez it was slow. Somehow, one day while surfing the net, I came across something about men with control issues. I remember reading page after page and I had an ah-ha moment. That’s when things started to change. Actually, I changed. I became stronger, more independent. I told him I wanted a divorce and went to a lawyer and filed for one. He promised to change so I told the lawyer to put things on hold.

The kids were in school and he was still working at the same place. He drove 93 miles on way to work every day. That was another stress issue for him. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about the day in about 2006 when he came in from work one summer evening. Being summer time, it was still light outside when he got home at 6 p.m. This was about 6 months after telling the lawyer to put the divorce on hold. It was a Thursday, his last work day for the week. He came home and dinner was almost done. He was pissed to say the least. Pissed because he had fallen asleep at the wheel and almost had an accident. Somehow, in his feeble little mind, this was my fault. He was the one who made the decision to move so far from his job. He made all the decisions, didn’t he? So how was I at fault?

I need to insert here that he carried a pistol on his long drive. The law in Texas says that because he drove through 3 or more counties, it is legal for him to carry without a permit. It was legal then anyway.

So, he comes home pissed at almost having a wreck. He comes in stomping, puts his things down and goes to change clothes. I’m cooking supper and totally unaware, at this point, of what had happened on his drive home. After changing, he comes into the kitchen and gets a beer. Now, I have to say, he was not a drinker. He would have one or two once a week or so and that was it. So a beer in his hand was never a problem.

He pops the top and he starts cussing and fussing about his drive home. He hollers at me and screams at me. To this day, I don’t recall what he said. I finished dinner and was about to put it on the table, when he comes back in from stepping outside for a minute.

At this point, he has cussed me, threatened me and told me he was going to shoot me if I didn’t shut the f**k up. So, he comes in from the car with beer in one hand and his 357 magnum in the other. Needless to say, I about peed myself.

But then he made a mistake. He put the gun down on the bar, just within my reach. I did something I would never have dreamed I could do. I grabbed the gun (which I knew how to use because he had taught me) and I pointed it at him. I told him to shut the f**k up and get out of my face. He was shaking in his flip-flops. I grabbed the phone and called 911.

After making the call, I ran outside and hid the gun. The cops didn’t know it existed, I hadn’t mentioned it when I called 911. Several cops showed up, the first within 2 minutes, he had been passing by on the highway at the end of our little dirt road.

They calmed him down and somehow he didn’t get hauled to jail. I think that would have made things worse.

When I divorced him in March of 2007, we had been married 20 years and 1 day.

Part Two

I used to be a weight lifter at the local gym. I joined in 1998 and was a member until I moved away in 2009. One day, I was talking to a friend at the gym and music was playing. It wasn’t loud, but I could hear it and I was tapping my hand on my leg to the beat of the music.

“Why does that hurt?” I thought to myself. It didn’t make any sense, I was fit and firm and nothing ever hurt. But tapping to the music did. The moment lasted all of 30 seconds and I forgot all about it. About 6 months later, the same scenario happened, tapping and pain. “What’s going on?” I asked myself.

This time, I didn’t forget about it. I went home later and stood there tapping myself. It hurt my leg, my arms and my shoulder. I was stupefied to say the least. Thank goodness for Google. So, I went to the Internet and searched for ‘why does my leg hurt when I tap it?’ I was floored when I read fibromyalgia. I had heard of this and it was a horrible thing to have. I was in denial. It couldn’t happen to me. Not the strongest woman weight lifter at the gym.

I had a friend who was a massage therapist. Her name was Ruth. Because of a minor car accident, I went to Ruth on a regular basis for massages. I was still married when I first started going to her, it was something we could afford then. After my divorce, she treated me for no charge.

I decided to ask Ruth about my fibromyalgia theory. She had been a registered nurse before going into massage, so she knew quite a bit. She agreed with me, she told me she had known for a while that I had it and had debated on telling me. She said that she could feel something in the muscles of her fibro clients that was different than clients without the condition.

That was in 2008 and since that time, I’ve come to accept that, yes it has happened to me. I have fibromyalgia, deal with it. I read about it, I’ve joined websites, read about diets and exercise. I deal with it.

Now, the other day I was talking to a new friend on Facebook and she led me to a sight with a lot of good information about fibro. I was reading along when I came across 2 paragraphs that literally brought tears to my eyes. The following paragraphs are from that sight.

One popular theory as to the cause of fibromyalgia is that a trauma or significant stressor turns on an individual’s “fight-or-flight” response. This response, designed to help us function in an emergency situation, usually only lasts a short time, then turns itself off.


But when the stress becomes prolonged, the fight-or-flight response gets stuck in the “on” position and the person’s body remains in a state of high alert. Being in a constant state of high alert puts even more stress on the body. This results in, among other things, a loss of deep, restorative sleep, which in turn causes pain amplification throughout the body.” (

My life flashed before my eyes, not like it would if I were in danger, but my life, literally. The whole time I was married, what my life had been like. That excerpt described, better than I ever could have, exactly what life had been for me.

I felt elated, to say the least. I had read that stress could cause fibromyalgia and I knew my life had been full of it. But when I read those paragraphs, I was over joyed. I am a writer and I cannot find the words to describe what I felt. I have not been able to stop thinking about this for several days now. I hope sharing it with my friends will help ease my mind a bit. I’ll say a prayer about too. Please say one for me.


About lherren1963

I'm a 51 yr old college student. I'm pursuing a BFA in Creative Writing.
This entry was posted in Life, Non-Fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stress and How It Can Make You Sick… Forever

  1. Julie DeNeen says:

    Stress is a powerful force against our bodies. I would agree wholeheartedly!

  2. JenJen0703 says:

    Linda, have you ever stopped long enough to say, “I was married to an abuser”? He was not controlling, he was downright abusive.

    Stress is one of the worst things that can happen to the human body and can cause long-lasting and deadly illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure, and ulcers, just to name a few. I am so glad you are free from that marriage and was able to land you a great guy.

    Thanks for the information about fibromyalgia. It was useful.

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