I think we can all agree there’s enough stress when raising a family — add chronic illness and employment struggles on top — KABLAM! You end up like me with a major guilty conscience, insomnia, brain fog, and you start talking to yourself.
Most of my life I’ve operated on guilt. I’m the oldest and was raised Catholic, what can I say? However, as an adult, there seems to be more of it, or more situations that generate it. Sometimes more than I can handle. I realize it’s not necessarily guilt applied by others but, more-so, guilt I don myself.
Guilt. Shame. Culpability. Malfeasance. A feeling of failure. A consciousness, or fear, of being judged. Judged by my family, friends, and other moms. Whatever you call it, I feel it. And sometimes the chest crushing weight of it feels too much to bear.
Top 5 Reasons I Feel Guilty
1.) Chronic Illness
My health is the number one struggle because it effects so many aspects of my life. I try not to think about it, or let it bother me, but there are days it cannot be ignored.
For starters, I have a severe lack of energy. If I’m able to fall out of bed, I may also be crippled by a migraine, joint pain, running back and forth to the restroom, or a combination of all of the above plus some. I don’t know if you’ve experienced chronic pain — it’s down right exhausting.
I do my best to push on, as many chronically ill do. To go about my day with as little evidence as possible that I’m drowning within.
I often ask myself, “Does hiding the fact that I’m sick or struggling do any good?” Conversely, “Would openly talking about what’s bothering me change anything?”
To be honest, I can’t answer either. Here’s why.
If I don’t say anything people assume I’m okay because, “I look fine”. You see, most of my afflictions are invisible.
If I do say something, like what’s bothering me at any given moment I’m “whining” or “complaining”. I’m told, “It cant be that bad”, or, “I just need to suck it up”, or, “I look fine” (the most popular utterance).
My experience with chronic illness is that it’s largely a solitary mental and emotional battle. I lean on virtual support groups via social media and am very thankful to have them. There are groups of us that can relate to one another.
2.) Struggling to Keep Up With the Kids (especially outside)
Having no energy makes me feel like a really bad mom. It’s a heavy weight on my heart.
What kind of mother can’t let her kids go outside and play freely for fear of having to chase them -or- for falling down on uneven ground -or- for being overheated?
Will they be able to sustain strong and solid friendships when they’re older? I surely haven’t been a role model in that regard.
Will they resent me in the future when they realize I’m different than other moms?
How many life experiences are they missing out on because of me?
3.) Dollars & Cents
We all know the unfortunate cost of health care. Deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, prescriptions, lotions/ creams, supplements, procedures, braces, gadgets/ equipment, and special foods…
I cost my family a small fortune (every) year.
I try to hold off on therapies and tests, I really do. However, there comes a point where I’m more of a burden without ’em.
So the phone calls to insurance, specialty clinics, and tactical scheduling begin (again).
Did I mention I cost my family a fortune?
Historically I’ve been the main income earner with a successful HR career. That all changed at the end of January 2018 when I was laid off. I’m still looking for the right opportunity, but with my (and our son’s) increasing health issues, our location, and the market, we’ve had to reevaluate our lifestyle.
Losing a significant income source has been more than just a hit to the bank account. It’s also a blow to my self esteem There’s a sense of pride and purpose in earning a living. Without it I don’t feel like a productive member of society. Maybe I’ll grow to accept it in time as long as we can figure out how to make all of the bills.
My husband is absolutely doing his part. He’s been trying to work as much overtime as possible (on top of his 12-hour shifts). More guilt. He’s even looking into a job change to cut down on commute and fuel costs, which will be significant because we live about 60 minutes from any larger metro area. Before losing my job, my was commute was nearly three hours a day. My husband’s is about an hour and ten minutes and would go down to five.
Not working full-time has been a blessing in some ways… For example, there’s no way our little guy could do his therapies three days a week without having to rely on family to provide transportation and childcare on our behalf.
5.) Brick Walls & Patience
Overall I’m a pretty positive and cheerful person. I have a smile on my face most of the time. I work hard, love to learn, give compliments, and I provide comedic relief (I’m a nerd and a klutz). I can power through a lot.
Every now and again, though, I get stuck. I hit a brick wall of pain and fatigue and it becomes a chore to hold my head up. Those are days I’m not quite as talkative, probably don’t have make-up on, and am beyond frustrated with myself. I’m grief stricken and mourning. Mourning the loss of my former self. The self that had stamina and could vacuum the house without having to take a break. I want that self back.
I try to hold it together the best I can. When I get home I may raise my voice or have less patience with my kiddos, but my poor husband. I don’t mean to snap at him. I don’t mean to scowl. I don’t mean to burden him with the raw me. I just don’t have anything left. All my spoons were used from merely existing^. Enter virtual support group, stage right.
I am thankful and appreciate for so much in life. I have a family, a home, and love. Guilt and grief just sometimes get in the way. I know I am not alone. It just feels lonely for a little while — every now and again.
^For more information on The Spoon Theory and other resources relating to my conditions, please visit the Links & Resources page.
Screen shots, photos, and stories are edited to omit my little ones’ names. Thanks for understanding. ❤