I got a message from someone on twitter today from a mum who is facing stoma surgery.
“You have made a difference. You made me feel ok about stoma surgery, you help me to remember I’m not the only one feeling like this. These school holidays are breaking my heart, I feel so guilty for not doing things with the kids. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone xx”
I responded telling them that today I’m in bed as all my kids are on computers and though I feel bad about this, I remind myself that when I can, I do.
It struck me that this is a good motto for anyone with chronic illness who is feeling guilty.
There is so much guilt in living with chronic illness or disability, it’s wrong, it’s unhelpful and it’s crap but almost everyone I speak to has had feelings of guilt at some time in their lives.
Guilt that they’re letting others down, that they’re not good enough parents, partners or friends. Guilt that they don’t pull their weight with work, guilt for taking time off. Guilt that their houses aren’t tidy enough, their dogs aren’t walked enough. Guilt that they sometimes eat fast food as they’re too tired to cook. Guilt that their kids have to care for them when they want to be caring for the kids. Guilt that family days out get cancelled or become about their illness rather than the fun of it.
Its easy for me to say that it needs to stop, that these things we feel bad about are out of our control and that guilt doesn’t help anyone. But I’d be a hypocrite. Because I feel all these things too.
But I do remind myself that when I can, I do.
When I can take my kids out for the day I do. Yes, it’s sometimes to the cinema as I know I’m not strong enough for a more physical day but I do.
When I can, I work hard, I put my everything into careers that I love.
When I can, my house is clean and tidy (and when I can’t, I hire a cleaner!!)
When I can, I see friends, I think about others, I’m there for them.
Life can be tough, but remember…
When we can, we do.