Monday, January 24, 2011

The Guilt Game

Right around 2005, when I first became ill with what has now progressed to Fibromyalgia, I started playing a game. It was not a good game, nor could I find anyone that wanted to play it with me. It was a game that caused the people I forced to engage, myself included, feeling desperate and awful. Yet I continued to seek it out, almost as a default, and relished in the havoc it wreaked and sorrow it created. It is called The Guilt Game. I felt so darn guilty for being sick and the impact my limitations had on my family and friends. I figured if I beat them to the miserable punch it would somehow lessen the burden my illness had on their lives. Boy was I ever wrong! It only served to spread this depraved misery round and round until the room was so thick with the fog of my guilt even I had to get away.

When my husband and I decided it was time for me to quit regular employment and take a freelance position we graduated to The Guilt Game II. I decided ALL the components that make a household successful were my responsibility. My husband worked excessive amounts of overtime and was perpetually exhausted. He tried to glean bits of fun and relaxation where he could, and I could not in good conscience ask him to go clean the shower on his 1 day off a week! So I struggled through it and adjusted my standards considerably. I was still working a couple of days a week and was greatly affected by the retail-on-your-feet physical aspect of my job. Yet the second he tried to wash a dish or prepare a meal I would freak out, hobbling my throbbing and aching legs into the kitchen to shoo him out and do the work myself. Oh would he get mad at me!

See somewhere along the joining up of our life and my illness I decided domestic work was mine, and paycheck work was his. I don't know if it was my upbringing, my desire to be a good wife or a way to feel less guilty about my illnesses and how incredibly limited I was. I only know it was very important for me to assume all household responsibility. It represented there was still something I could do to contribute to our life, a way to take care of my husband and try and make his life easier. I felt elephant-on-your-chest-guilty for how hard he worked to support us. I also sought out a way to remain relevant, still be needed. I could not just drop out of life all together and fade into the background... This Guilt Game is still something I struggle with daily. I have gotten quite a bit better about it, or at least about expressing it. But my husband just came home from the grocery store after a long day of work and is preparing to cook dinner. The fact that I am a crying sobbing mess about it means I still have a long way to go baby!

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  1. Oh my goodness Leah, I could have written this word for word...I am newly diagnosed and see myself in this very situation...

  2. Wish I could say it is a symptom of the new diagnosis but I know for me personally it is a daily battle 6 years in. Bless you ;)

  3. I, too, am guilty of the Guilt Game, and it has been 14 yrs! However, I take it a step further and begin to punish myself for what I wasn't able to do or will not be able to do. How appropriate that you write about this after the day I had yesterday. I beat myself up throughout the day about my inabilities. I think I do this so others don't do it first, similar to the Guilt Game. Oddly enough, I know exactly what I am doing, and I still endure my own abuse. But, yesterday, I had a breakthrough. I realize that on a day I am in beat-up mode, my blood sugar levels are not level. I have episodes of low blood sugar drops and it always happens on the day I am beating myself up. So, it's either the beat-up mode happens because the levels are off - which is third chakras imbalance - or my negative self talk affects my third chakra and throws off my blood sugar. What a circle !

  4. I am in the same boat, sinking as it may seem to be. I feel miserable about not bringing in money, and when the house is a mess, I feel like I have somehow failed in my role in life, and feel that I am being considered as less of an actual person (do I really think that I am less of a person? because no one tells me this, I just start seeing myself through "their" eyes or what I imagine "their" eyes are seeing.) It is vicious.