I frequently find myself either bitterly acting out or saying this to those around me. Apologizing to those whose lives are affected by my illness, as though it is something I did or like or want or don’t suffer horribly from myself. As hard as Fibromyalgia is to manage, the guilt on top of everything else is ridiculous! Do other chronic illness sufferers feel the same way or is this particular to our condition because science and medicine are still so clueless about it? Because there is a massive “blame the patient” stigma attached to Fibromyalgia? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that when it comes time to take care of myself because I am in a flare or have not slept or am hurting so bad I simply cannot get up off the sofa I feel guilty. Guilt tinged with absurd anger, and usually jump up to try to perform whatever task is in question. Many ‘o many a time I have picked a fight with my husband simply by projecting this onto him. I take my own disappointment in myself, my own frustration at my limitations, and get mad at him for treating me like I am letting him down. Poor guy! Still wonder why he puts up with me… He will just stand there helpless as I freak out and slam the dishes out of the dishwasher, into the cupboard, or begrudgingly start throwing laundry around, stuffing it into the washer. Sometimes he gets mad back, if he is short-tempered already, telling me this is my issue, not his. Other times he shows me compassion and tries to get me to be nicer to myself. Either way, it sure sucks to be him right then and there!
Why is it so hard to show me kindness and self-respect? I know Fibromyalgia is “not in my head”, yet my actions sing a different tune! I know how to take care of myself to minimize the symptoms I suffer from on a daily basis, yet feel it frivolous to do so. One of the biggest personality flaws that reared its very ugly head when I first became so ill with CFS & Fibromyalgia was the need for approval to be sick. I needed it everywhere, from everyone! Mom, dad, husband, friends, coworkers, bosses…not to mention doctors and therapists! It was as though if everyone would get together and collectively say “Poor Leah, she is so sick!” I had the permission I was looking for to take care of myself. But there was NO ONE lining up to do that. No one knew what was wrong with me, it was living hell finding a doctor to even take me seriously, let alone people that I crossed paths with on the streets of life.
The emotional growth I went through on this 1 issue alone was massive. I had to really get to the root of why it was so important for everyone to “agree” that I was truly ill. Did this stem from childhood need for acceptance? Did I need permission to lay down my “type A” evil ways and just be? Was I completely lacking the self-esteem necessary to be nice to myself? All I know is that accepting that Fibromyalgia and Leah had to come to terms with each other was something that happened bit by bit, little by little, inch by inch. I slowly peeled back the layers of emotional weakness that needed so bad and realized that if I was to survive this monstrosity it was only going to happen because it was on my terms. Getting to the point where the opinions and judgment of others regarding my methods of managing myself were of little importance to me took years. It is still something I struggle with, but I can sure say that my need for approval has gone from Amethyst to Lilac and that makes it much easier to take care of me.
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