It is normal for those who are chronically ill to feel guilty. Guilty about not living up to other people’s expectations. About not living up to your own expectations. You feel like you can be a better mom, dad, sister, brother, husband, wife, whatever….you could be doing it better.
But sit back and think about why you feel guilty. Do you and others have reasonable expectations on you? Your life has changed now. At some point you have to accept “what is” in this moment. Not that you will always be in this moment, but for now you are. So take what you have an work with it. Reevaluate your own expectations of yourself. It will be a period of “readjustment.”
Here are some simple steps to help you deal with guilt.
1. Evalutate your guilt, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling guilty/” ” What is making me feel this way?” Write it down.
2. Rate your guilt. How bad is this terrible thing you have done? Did you purposely become ill? Did you ask for this? Try to put this guilt of being chronically ill into a rational perspective. Read the following sentences and decide what should make you feel guilty:
1. Stealing money out of someones wallet, or waking up sick one day with a controversial illness that has little help?
2. Kicking your dog in a temper tantrum, or having to miss driving your child to school because you were in the bathroom throwing up?
3. Missing a family reunion because you were too hung over from the bar the night before, or missing an old friend’s wedding because your temperature was 102 when you woke up and the day before you forgot where you were when you were driving?
3. Now think about what you can do about your guilt. If you feel guilty you aren’t spending enough time driving your kids to PTA meetings, then what CAN you do with your kids? Can you make a fort out of blankets in your room and put on a movie to watch with them? Can you get out a coloring book and color with them for an hour? If you can’t get up and make your husband dinner, can you order his favorite take out? Can’t make your best friend’s wedding? Can you make an online photo album of your favorite memories of her while you were both growing up? Think of who and what you feel guilty for and try to find an alternative to what you feel you are lacking. Start to shift your focus on what you can’t do, and put it on what you can.
4. Forgive. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Then set and keep your own boundaries. No matter how many times the church secretary asks you to cook your famous chili for the church potluck, you can say no and NOT have to give an explanation. It is ok to say, sorry I just can’t right now. After a couple times the other person will learn your boundaries and that you are not able to commit. They will stop asking you and you will be able to stop feeling guilty each time. If your family member, friend or children ask you to do something you know you just can’t do, tell them no sorry, I can’t do that, but maybe one night we could do….(fill in with what activity would be more appropriate for you.) Sometimes by saying “no” to others, we are saying “yes” to our own healing.
Click Below to Listen to a Free Recording of a Teleconference Call regarding Guilt and Being Chronically Ill.
Releasing the guilt of being chronically ill and/or being the parent of a chronically ill child.
Hosted by Jenny Rush and Lisa Hilton.