“You are not obligated to do everything a healthy person does. You are not obligated to be an inspiration. You are not obligated to hide your illness to make other’s comfortable. You are allowed to know your limits. You are allowed to have bad days. It is not your fault if other people leave you because of your illness. It is not your fault that you have an invisible illness. You do not have to apologize for something that is out of your control.”
I never truly acknowledged the amount of pressure and guilt I put on myself until my daughter, who is now four was born. I have always been a perfectionist but I never want to fail as a mother in any way, shape or form. However, I believe my quest to be the perfect mom at times causes my anxiety levels and stress levels to go up which in turn increases my pain levels or at least I notice my chronic pain more. There are things I did not have as a child that I want my children to have, but deep down I take this motherhood thing to a whole new level. I love my daughter more than anything in this world and as most parents know it is a love that is unlike any other love in the world. The love I have for my daughter scares me at times. I wonder am I doing this or that right, analyze her actions as ‘age appropriate’ or dare I use the term: ‘normal.’ I never want her to be sad, feel abandoned or have a bad day. The pressure I put on myself to make my daughter happy can at times be unhealthy for both of us. That realization and throwing that sentence out into the world is not easy for me to do. I am very much like other mothers I know and am friends with but I believe some of my childhood and my journey with chronic pain has shaped me into a mother who worries way too much about how her daughter is doing/feeling/acting and not enough time focusing on how I am doing/feeling/acting. Cognitively I know and most of us realize this: the happier and less stressed/healthier I am, the happier my daughter will be no matter what we are doing.
I had an appointment for a physical scheduled for this gloomy Monday morning and I truly hate going to the doctor’s office because it reminds me of my ten year search to find a cure to chronic pain, during which I LIVED in the offices of every doctor imaginable but what I now dislike more is the guilt I put on myself because my four year old comes with me. I almost cancelled (in hindsight I wish I had) because I did not want to drag her to a doctor’s office even though it is harder on my than her: thoughts truly do create our reality. I packed snacks, games, books, magazines, colored pencils: the works just in case the wait was long which it ended up being: way too long of a wait for that matter. After an hour and a half in the waiting room, I honestly could not take waiting any longer and Kayci had been patient up until we passed the sixty minute mark. I told the front desk I would have to re-schedule and decided to go to a different office as I got very bad energy from the office and honestly the receptionists were very rude. I have learned to follow my intuition and for some obvious and not so obvious reasons this is not a doctor’s office I ever want to go to again much less bring my four year old to. The guilt kept getting worse as the clock ticked by and the loud TV screamed out medical advice. By the time I finally made a choice to leave, I could feel my chronic pain mounting which I am usually able to put on the back burner. It actually felt as if I had gone there for chronic pain and I have not seen any doctor for pain for years. I think that is where my guilt stems from and that is absolutely ridiculous.
I did search for a cure for over a decade. I did drop out of college for two years because my quest to cure my chronic pain took over my entire being. I do feel that I lost ten years of my life but that is why I decided to learn how to manage chronic pain naturally. With that choice, I must go easier on myself especially when it comes to parenting. I am so far from perfect and have made many mistakes in my life but I know one thing and that is that I am a great mom. If there was such a thing as a perfect mom, we would be living the life of Stepford Wives and I am sure half of their children are rebelling somewhere in the world. I want to let go of the guilt. I want us all to let go of any guilt we feel due to our invisible illness whether that be chronic pain or not. I did not ask to fall off of my bike and have brain surgery. I did not ask to live a life with chronic pain. Neither did any of you. I am exhausted from being so hard on myself and living in the world of apologies. How many times a day do you find yourself saying: “I’m sorry.” We are a generation (especially females) of guilt, feeling as if we are not enough, and saying the two words: “I’m sorry” at least ten times a day. We are doing the best we can. Are other people putting pressure on us or are we doing it to ourselves? We can blame society, our friends, our family but in the end we need to stand up for ourselves and take care of our health and happiness because we are our biggest enemy which is such a shame. Life is too damn short to live one more second in the realm of guilt. It is odd, I know my readers are doing the best they can with their invisible illness and I am sure you feel the same about me. Why do we credit others so much and forget the person that matters more than anyone in our lives: OURSEVLES.