I didn't ask to be born!
For some reason, trying to sleep in the early morning, I think of this adolescent wail. And I think, all around this world -- probably across the galaxy -- people are born into poverty and abuse, slavery and illness, hardship and brokenness -- and none of us asked for this. Of course, some philosophies and religions suggest that we did, but set that aside for the moment.
When I worked with sex offenders, their victims and their wives, the wives (especially wives of men who abused their own children) would often claim the blame for the abuse. There are, of course, some wives, mothers, girlfriends, who do know -- even condone -- their husband's crimes. But usually, not. Yes, it is possible to not know; or to suspect, but deny.
After awhile, I began to see these assertions of guilt as a rather sophisticated avoidance of responsibility. As long as a mother blames herself for her husband's behavior, she is distracted from her own. She did not abuse the child. But perhaps she did ignore the complaints of her children; refuse to hear. Perhaps she feared change; feared how things would be if the denial stopped. Feared what she would lose.
She can't change his behavior; she can only change her own -- and that means, often (usually) great upheaval for the protection of her children.
Why am I thinking of this now, and why am I posting it here, on a blog about illness?
Because I think I've been using the same mechanism. By blaming myself for being ill -- either for somehow bringing it on myself, or for somehow not curing myself -- I avoid responsibility for dealing with the fact of it. Here it is. Now what?
So when it's bad -- when I can't keep the house, or manage daily chores, or walk the dogs or write a blog post -- I feel shame. I feel guilt.
This is not helpful, both because I did not, indeed, ask for this -- but also because such feelings block my responsibility for finding a solution. I am not responsible for being ill; I am responsible for managing it. I've gone around and around this over the years -- too many years -- sometimes doing better; sometimes worse.
Where is the exit?