The Guilt That Often Accompanies Chronic Illness
I can’t be the grandparent I want to be. I can’t even live in the same state as my grandchildren. I can’t go to school events, grandparent days, football, dancing and cricket games, confirmations and birthday parties. There is guilt too because I believe that being available to do these things and play silly games and read stories and just plain love my grandchildren is what being a grandparent is. I am missing the joy of them growing up.
I can’t be the wife I would like to be. Sometimes my communication is almost nonexistent. I get tired of talking about my health. Tired of explanations. Tired of having to rest. Tired of not being able to share our retirement as we had dreamed. I have guilt because the load of cooking and housework falls on his shoulders. He really is my carer now! And as for sex… Well, what’s that? I miss the close intimacy.
I can’t be the friend I used to be. I let my friends down when I have to cancel at the last minute because of my health. They understand, but there is always some guilt jiggling away. Some days, I don’t have the energy to answer their phone calls. Guilt is there as it seems I receive from the friendships but often can’t give!
As a mother, I can’t be there for my three sons. I have moved 1200 km away. I am distanced from their lives and feel guilt at being unable to help and support them or spend time with them.
I loved being part of a faith community and supporting others. I am physically incapable of doing this. A part of me believes I “should” still be active in the community.
I feel guilty that my husband has also had to move 1200 km from home, away from all we knew and loved. He is remarkable! He never complains. I sometimes think I am too big a load! What we have had to do has been a huge upheaval and caused financial difficulty too. He has had to relinquish the dreams we had for our retirement too.
I can look at the beauty of the place where we are living; my husband and I have strong companionship and ties. Physically, I am far healthier living in this climate. I can find lots of enjoyment in my life. I am becoming far more patient. I am not complaining about “the unfairness of my lot in life.” I am not in the midst of a “pity party” either.
I have just discovered and am now willing to acknowledge that there is just this facet of chronic illness I must recognize, accept and work through. Chronic illness brings many things into your life. One of these is often guilt.
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Thinkstock photo via Blackmoon9.