“You’re a warrior Baby.” My eyes filled with tears once again as my husband said this to me. I sure didn’t feel like a warrior; I felt utterly defeated, with a heavy mantle of guilt laid squarely across my shoulders.”If I am a warrior, I sure am a wimpy one” I replied.
It had been a hard day and I was an emotional mess.
The day started with waking up to a full-on fibromyalgia flare and an almost overwhelming feeling of grief for my dear friend and her children, who were burying their husband/father that day. After the funeral our Sunday School class was providing lunch for the family. Normally I would have helped set up, serve, and clean up, but with my pain levels where they were, there was no way I could help do any of that. I had to leave right after the service. As if that weren’t enough, that evening, my husband had to facilitate the class we normally facilitate together because I wasn’t able to go. The guilt of having failed to do two things in one day was almost unbearable. Mentally, I knew I shouldn’t feel guilty because I can’t help being ill, but emotionally, I just kept beating myself up. I kept wondering if I should have just “sucked it up” and done it anyway. I wondered if I was just being a wimp. It’s hard to be objective about things when you’re so emotionally invested.
The next day I was able to look at things a little more objectively and as my husband and I talked about my feelings of guilt, he said something to me that kind of shocked me. He said, “I’m not sure you believe you’re sick. If you had the flu or a broken arm or something, you wouldn’t be feeling so guilty about not being able to do things. What makes this different for you?” He made a good point, and although I assured him that I do know I’m sick, sometimes I wonder if I’m just being wimpy about my pain and that I don’t hurt as much as I think I do. In my mind I know that’s not true, but sometimes I have trouble getting the truth through to my heart.
The truth is you can’t take responsibility for something you can’t control. You just have to let go of those feelings of guilt and concentrate on things that serve you better. These are some things that might help:
- Acknowledge your feelings. Trying to stuff them down or hide them only allows them to grow in your mind and make things seem worse than they really are.
- Realize that you’re not choosing not do do something; your body is choosing it for you.
- Find other things that you can do. Maybe you can’t serve lunch, but you probably can send a card, or make a phone call, etc.
- Be kind to yourself. Give yourself some grace – if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself. No negative self-talk!
Feeling guilty about things you can’t control only keeps you from moving forward and doing the things you are able to do, so if you struggle with this also, I encourage you to let it go!