Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Game Of Guilt

Wish I may, wish I might, I cannot seem to get this guilt thing contained! It got the point that I actually looked at my husband the other day and told him it is getting hard to look at him, I feel so guilty. Guilty for being sick, guilty for the financial devastation my illness has caused us. Guilty for the sacrifices he has made and compromises he has been forced into. Guilty for not keeping a clean house and oh so guilty when he asks me to do laundry so he can have some clean underpants the next day. All because he had the misfortune of marrying a person who looked healthy but has been dishing out one medical crisis after another since before we got hitched. And the worst guilt of all, that he still loves me. For every time we have this conversation he flips the table. And of course I would do everything he has done for me and more if need be, if he were the sick one, without hesitation. But for some reason I cannot grasp why what I have to give is valuable enough to love. And fight for and keep hanging on to. This exploration, meeting of minds as we navigate a way to deal with this guilt, for I am shutting down and closing off with greater frequency, brought up a new angle I had not considered before.

My generation. We were raised by the ERA fore-mothers whom, by the time my parents came of age, were stomping and yelling about equality, rights, freedom from the chains of housewife-dom and motherhood. Choices and opportunities afforded to men were not afforded to women. And yes indeed something needed to be done about it. For how can we call ourselves a free country when half our population had very limited freedom? But by the 1980's equal rights were a mess. Men could not open doors or pull out chairs or gesture a stand as a woman excused herself to the powder room while in a restaurant. There was no separate but equal. There was only equal. Feminism had swallowed up femininity. And the female population lost something important while they gained that sought after equality. The natural balance between men and women. The yin and yang. The way we were created to complement and complete each other, not compete with one another. The belief that a woman could "have it all" morphed into a nightmare for many, as high-profile careers or demanding jobs interfered with motherhood, and TV and video games became the prevalent constant babysitter for my latchkey kid generation.

So this brings me back to how I was able to shed some light on my core beliefs and values and uncover what is feeding this seed of guilt deep within my gut. I never expected to not work. I fantasized that one day I would have children and of course stay home with them until they were off to school. Then I would resume my professional identity and we would all sail into the sunset, happily ever after. But I got sick and knocked that boat clear out of the harbor before it had a chance to set sail. And life has been one big fat struggle to come to terms with the physically limiting and emotionally devastating reality that is living with and managing Fibromyalgia. So I have set out on a search. To seek out a greater understanding of these differences between man and woman. Differences I was not taught to know or respect. Gain some insight into how I can set down this very heavy bag of guilt and embrace the role I am positioned to play. Delight in my husband, compliment him, have pride in being his wife. Take ownership of my home and recognize that what I am doing right this second is indeed work, even if the pay is terrible and I enjoy it quite a bit. 

Thanks for joining,


  1. You need to stop beating yourself up, Leah! Sure, we have Fibromyalgia and it is a royal pain in the rear but the problem is that the last syndrome likes to take center stage and make us forget what we truly have in our lives.

    When I first dated my husband - he was sick with a "terminal" genetic illness. I took care of him and only wanted him to push himself as far as he could go. My statement was: "I only take care of those that cannot care for themselves." He was sick for the first 5 years of our marriage until he received a double lung transplant in 2004.

    Of course, I was sick during that time but didn't know what was wrong with me. So, I pushed through and in April 2010, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Since then, my health has been a roller coaster ride - with my husband taking the lead and helping me.

    I've been on both ends - caregiver and patient. Yes, being a patient sucks but we are only limited by that which we believe we can and cannot do. If the laundry is too much for you, swap a chore with your husband - something that is easier for you to do. Or, what I do is perform all my chores on Sunday so I only have to recoup once. During the week I will do the dishwasher (cause he doesn't do it right) and he traded me for the vacuuming (which takes too much out of me). It's a compromise but something you can definitely work through to feel like you are a contributing member of the family.

    As for the finances - yes, it sucks. I have a doctor's appointment in a few days for black floater spots taking up my vision in my right eye. The problem is that the entire visit is out of my pocket to meet my $5K/yr deductible. The way I see it is - at least I do have insurance for emergencies - even if I can only pay for a plan that has a huge deductible at this time.

    Feel better and please know that no matter what you are not alone!

  2. Good to know I'm not alone in my crazy guilt feelings. I've been recently diagnosed even though I've known for over a year that something was wrong. I even told my boyfriend the other night that I understood if he ever wanted to leave me because he didn't sign up for this.

  3. " for some reason I cannot grasp why what I have to give is valuable enough to love." This is exactly how I feel. Guilty for being loved.