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No Spoons


You know when you want to eat cereal for breakfast and there's no spoons? Today's deep thoughts are a twist on that idea.

Months ago I was talking with my sister about school and how she was ready to drop a class. She'd been super sick and was dealing with a lot of tricky stuff, so she emailed her professor and said, "I'm all out of spoons." Amazingly, this was a psych class + the professor really wanted her to pass + worked with her to finish a bunch of assignments = it wasn't necessary to drop the class. But the metaphor for spoons stuck in my brain.

When a person says, "I have no spoons for this," it means that they're done. Their energy is gone and their capacity to handle any more details is gone. Let's rewind a bit, shall we?

Spoon Theory began when a woman with chronic illness was trying to describe her life to a friend in perfect health. In a nutshell, we each begin the day with a finite amount of energy. A person who is dealing with chronic health issues begins the day with less spoons, meaning that their start point is maybe half of the normal allotment. My good friend B with hashimoto's doesn't begin her day by running around the neighborhood, because that's just silly. She knows that she must choose wisely and conserve her energy.

This resonated with me because halfway into fall semester I feel similarly. I'm not dealing with chronic illness, but there are other factors in my life that add complexity and chaos. You can fill in the blanks with your own stories here too.  

  • Let's say that three big spoons in this photo represent the teenagers in my world.
  • Marching Band is another spoon entirely, it takes a ton of energy to keep up with the rigorous schedule.
  • My youngest just went to the dentist and had some cavities filled, and at the end a very young doctor told me she needed to stay home for two hours and not return to school. Something about a chance that a child will chew on their lip while everything is numb. Let's hope not, I have no spoons for this.
  • My husband's job is pretty heavy now, with professional dilemmas.
  • What shall I make for dinner? 
  • We need to go buy a small carryon that fits the international requirements, so it must be 45" total.
  • Stopped at the pharmacy to refill three Rx and they gave me the wrong drug, so I must return again tomorrow.
The point here is this: there are half a dozen big spoons that I'm not listing. Many of the burdens we carry are invisible. Many of the spoons that take our time and energy are not readily apparent to others. So when a person asks, "How are you?" and they choose to be honest and say, "I'm tired," or "I'm struggling right now," or anything that deviates from the standard response of "Fine," maybe you can say something dumb like, "It sounds like you're all out of spoons."



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