Don’t Pretend || Day 22

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Chronic illness has a way of striking the busiest people.  You have so many commitments: busy job, volunteer projects, children and their activities, teaching Sunday School, team mom/dad, best friend's wedding, hobbies, etc.  Probably most of these commitments are things you enjoy, but some you may do purely out of obligation.

Now you are struggling to to keep up.  Those 100 things you used to do in a week have suddenly become impossible.  You can barely get out of bed in the morning, let alone everything else you have on your plate.

But you don't want to let anybody down.  You don't want to be the weak link, the "flake".  You liked that everyone could depend you to get a job done, that you were everyone's go-to-girl (or guy).  But now in order for you to get all those things done you must sacrifice the precious moments of rest that allow you to survive, adding more stress to your body and soul.

Let me give it to you straight: you can't do it all anymore.  You just can't.  And for some of us that fact is more painful than the physical pain from our medical condition.

It's painful because we have to let go of projects or hobbies we used to enjoy.  We have to say no to fun activities because our physical body can't tolerate it.  We have to pass on volunteering for a great cause or helping our friends with a special project because to do it would mean spending the next 4 days in bed recovering from it.

You might try pretending that you can still do it all, push through the pain or sickness and just do it anyway.  You may think you're getting away with it but I'm pleading with you to hear me: it will only get worse.  You will start making mistakes.  You will forget things you said "yes" to.  You will have to call and cancel last minute because you are sick or flat on your back.  Instead of being the most reliable, joyful person for the job, you will gradually become the cranky, unreliable person that everyone has to clean up after.

Don't bother trying to shirk it off, acting like it's no big deal.  Saying goodbye to all those things you used to love to do is upsetting, even depressing.  Stop and grieve for it if you need to.

Then take an honest look at what you now can and cannot do.  First decide what you absolutely must do.  Like getting the kids to school. Vacuuming your house. Getting to/from doctor's appointments.  Only the most important, vital stuff goes to the top of the list.

If you have any energy or time left in your reserves you can add some lesser activities or one-time events.  But don't overdo it.  Learn to say "no" graciously yet firmly.  People who were used to counting on you are going to ask you to help them but remember that it is impossible for you to help someone else if you are operating on "empty."

If your illness comes and goes, you can do more on the "good days" then limit yourself during the "bad days."  If your illness is here to stay, narrow down to the activities that bring you the most joy while not sacrificing your wellness.

Getting used to this new life, the less busy life, can be a big adjustment. But in the end, it will be the best, most life-giving thing for your body and your soul.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Pretend || Day 22

  1. Carey,
    This is SUCH a hard lesson to learn. I am still having to figure out how to reconcile my "no's" to my desires. Maybe I need to mourn their loss a bit more, as you suggest

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