Chronic guilt is useless.

Initially, one of the most disabling components of my illness was the guilt that came with it. I constantly felt guilty for what I couldn’t do. The only thing more emotionally exhausting than dealing with illness is dealing with the guilt that accompanies it. I have decided that I am just inherently prone to guilt. When I bump into inanimate objects (Dizziness is another of my lovely symptoms, so I do a lot of bumping.), I apologize to them. According to Joe, I apologize to him all night long. Apparently, every time I roll over at night or flip my pillow or move, I say, “I’m sorry.” I really have no idea why I apologize so much, but I think it was a part of me before chronic illness. It has just magnified in the past few years. What I am figuring out, though, is my guilt is typically completely unfounded.

You see, I am an inconvenience. It’s okay; I have a few redeeming characteristics. I am generally a kind person; I like to help others; I don’t litter . . . (Can you tell I’m really searching for my good qualities?). But, redeeming qualities aside, my lifestyle is a bit inconvenient. For example, I don’t drive much. I will venture out within a couple miles of my house as long as I feel okay, and I’ve had plenty of time to hydrate. For the most part, though, I have to wait on Joe to transport me. He works all day, and I feel a little bit like a jerk to ask him to take me places when he comes in from the office. So . . . I spend the day before I need Joe to take me somewhere feeling genuinely guilty that I can’t be a ‘normal grown up’ and drive myself. Then, when Joe gets home, I apologize 47 times and feel even worse if he as much as sighs- convinced that he is frustrated at my inability to be normal.

However, the truth is, even if he does feel a little frustrated it is okay. He’s allowed to feel irritated at my condition; it doesn’t mean he is irritated at me. I’m learning, however, that it is utterly pointless for me to feel guilty for something I cannot change. I don’t ask Joe (or anyone else for that matter) to do things for me because I refuse to do them for myself. I ask for help when I need help. Feeling guilty about that is just a good way for me to impose more insecurities on myself.

So, what do I do to keep from feeling guilty? I try. I try to help Joe with job tasks that I can do. Sometimes that means I type hundreds of pages of PowerPoints and others are more exciting like when I get to help plan student events or brainstorm scoring rubrics. Joe has no choice but to be very involved in my life. He keeps track of doctors’ appointments, prescription pick ups, treatment dates, etc. The least I can do is to be just as involved in his life. That means listening to him tell about the successes and frustrations of his day, asking if I can help with some of his basic tasks, and basically trying to keep him from feeling alone in his world while he’s helping me hold mine together.

I used to say that I was trying to learn to live my life without guilt. In some ways, I suppose I am. However, I don’t want to live my life unapologetically. See, when I said I was living life without guilt, I started justifying everything that happened as a result of illness. I don’t want to feel guilty because people have to help me accomplish daily tasks sometimes, but I also don’t ever want to expect them to do things for me. I also don’t want to be in a place of justifying treating others poorly as a side effect of illness. Some days I feel bad; I am in pain, and I’m generally sick and tired of being sick and tired. I still have a responsibility to treat others well. Sure, I’ll be grumpy, but I don’t want to be so focused on living without guilt, that I don’t apologize when I’m wrong.

Ultimately, this is my life. I can’t change the things that have happened to me, but I can take control of how I feel. I can quit focusing on my guilt and instead focus on how to let those around me know that I appreciate all they do for me.

If you have the time, in the comment section tell me what you do to make your significant other, family, friends, etc. feel appreciated. I could definitely use some more ideas.

Peace, love, and health, friends.

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4 thoughts on “Chronic guilt is useless.

    1. tiffanyrearly Post author

      Your friend might be on to something. I have no idea why I apologize so much (even to inanimate objects! Lol). I honestly don’t think I could stop if I tried! (Thanks for taking time to read this!)

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  1. Bneal

    I def think there’s something to feeling guilty and apologetic being bred into southern women lol! And like all good southern women I try to make sure I send thank you notes to my friends that help me get to drs appts or pick up my son, etc on a reg basis. I know a few sweet, handwritten words go a long ways :). We also live without family nearby so we rely on friends A LOT to help us out (bc I’m quite needy with all if my medical issues lol). We try to have them over for dinner often too to make sure that we’re here for them when they’re not “needed” as well. That part gets tricky when you rely on friends so much. I’ll also pick up small “happy gifts” for the girl friends (lotions, soaps, cute notepads, etc). Just something that says I was thinking of you today. And my husband will spend time with the guys golfing, hunting, etc.

    In terms of my husband we just have lots of open communication. We leave each other little surprise notes every now and then I say I love you, etc. We spend lots of time together as a family. We’re still working on this whole illness thing and how it fits into our life. And that’s where we talk, talk, talk about it. And we read your blog together :).

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    1. tiffanyrearly Post author

      I love what you said about “being there” for your friends- not just when you need them to do something for you. I think we’ve all had friendships/ relationships where we felt more of that was needed.

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