HomelifeWhy feel guilty for self care?

Last week, I had some nasty allergy problems. I had put my tree up on Yule, which

Life can be beautiful, but rough spots like these
happen to us all. Recovery is a must.
[Photo Credit Daniel Beilson, via unsplash]

stirred up all kinds of dust in the house, and on Christmas, visited family in their older house. Allergies, in turn, triggered my asthma.

Natural remedies do work, but they take much longer, and since I didn’t want to rely on my albuterol, I decided to go the OTC route, despite knowing the only allergy meds we had in the house give me migraines.

Predictably enough, one reared its ugly head. Migraines make my dyslexia extremely hard to handle, and banish all hope of word recall, which makes writing an impossibility. Hey, at least I could breath, right?

My physical symptoms are finally leveling out, but I find myself dealing with another demon – guilt.

Those were three days of productivity lost. Sure, I was able to see family on Saturday and get the dishes done during lulls in symptoms, but that was it as far as getting things done went.

Why couldn’t I just push through it all? Why didn’t I think to wear a dust mask when putting the tree up? Why couldn’t I just ignore the pain and disorientation to get writing done? Why wasn’t I tough enough? Why, why, why?

It took me a long time to recognize that self-flagellation as echoes from the culture in which I grew up. Unless you had a fever of over 100, you went to school. You worked through the pain, and battered yourself bloody against the walls of teaching styles that didn’t match up with how you learned. Anything less than perfection was unacceptable.

My parents weren’t exactly slave drivers, but that did nothing to blunt the messages shot my way from certain teachers, peers, the media at large, and later, coworkers or bosses. If you’re weak in any way, you’re seen as a waste.

I’ve worked hard to reject that idea, especially when it comes to others. Maybe it comes from growing up alongside people with more severe disabilities than my own, or befriending others with debilitating medical issues. The fact many people I’ve reconnected with or grown close to have mental health challenges may also have something to do with it.

So, why can I take a more compassionate stance in relation to their struggles than with my own? I’m just as human as anyone else, and although my complaints may seem trivial in comparison to others, my fight is just as worthy of validation.

When I was a kid, struggling through the fallout of my parents’ divorce, ongoing bullying and my academic trials, I went to a school counselor every week. Of all things she told me, one stuck: “Your mind knows exactly what’s going on and what needs to be done, but your heart’s just a little slower at understanding.”

It was as true then as it is today.

The lesson I’m taking from all of this is to have patience with myself. Despite what others try telling me, I can only do the best I can do. I’ll never stop pushing myself, but that doesn’t mean I should beat myself up over weaknesses I can’t help having, or giving myself the care I need.

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