Out, Damn Guilt, Out

“You’re the only help I have right now, Mom!  I just feel like I’m not a priority for you.”

“When you spend all your energy on the kids, I feel as if there is never any left over for me.  I just get the dregs.”

“It would be really nice if you could spend some time with your Mother.  I am alone all day, you know.”th-3

Up until last May, I spent the better part of my days in bed, with little or no energy to do anything apart from basic self care. I required home care to help with housework, shopping, and cooking, and limited social visits so that I would not overtax myself.  It meant I was not available to meet the needs of others: a guilt-invoking reality that required therapy to wade through.

Over the summer, my energy has improved to the point where I am able to be out of bed longer, have managed some outings, and can visit more with loved ones.  In that time, one of my daughter’s had another baby, my husband had a heart attack, and my mother’s health has failed.  Guilt has reared its ugly head again.

th-1I feel torn.  The obvious answer is that my health is my first priority, as I still have a long way to go to full recovery (if that ever happens), however; the old me is feeling the pull of obligations and wants to answer to the call.

No one wants my return to health more than me, but what sets me apart from others, is that I don’t want a return to my old self: the people pleasing, excessively responsible, boundary less martyr of before.

My therapist and I have discussed this thoroughly over the years, but now is test time.  As much as I want to be there for my husband, my children, and my family, I have limited (and I mean limited) capability yet.  If I’m going to make a commitment to anyone, it has to be me first.  th-2

This is not selfish, I keep telling myself (and I know I’m sounding like a broken record); it is self-preservation.

“You are at a dangerous point in your healing process,” the psychologist warned me recently.  “You have just enough energy to be able to do a few things, but not nearly enough to be where you need to be, and the temptation is to overdo causing setbacks.  You run the risk of sliding backwards.”

Backwards is not a place I want to go.  Guess I better pull in the reins and figure it out before things get too out of hand.

 

 

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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