Probably the two most difficult aspects for me of being chronically ill are practicing self-care and accepting my limitations. Both bring about a sense of guilt I really struggle with. Self-care just feels selfish. Having limitations means asking others to do more for me. Finding a balance is tricky.
At the same time, both are a vital part of my life. If I take better care of myself, I can do more in the long run. If I admit my limitations, it prevents me from overdoing it and ending up really ill or even in the hospital. It can be so hard to say no, I cannot do this or that, but in the end…I really do not have a choice. Otherwise, I might not even be able to function the next day, and then I will end up having to cancel everything, letting even more people down.
I realize that it takes great inner strength to admit these are necessary and then to follow through. First, I have to push aside and then hopefully, eventually overcome the feelings of guilt. I must understand it comes from a place not only of love of self, but also of love of others. The more I take care of myself, the more I can do. The better I take care of myself, the better I can take care of others.
All of it is a learning process. How much can I handle? What level of care do I need? I have to set boundaries with myself and with everyone around me.
“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
“Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.” – William Shakespeare
Eventually, the acceptance will lead to better health, especially emotionally. Nobody can do it all, least of all me.