Feeling ill

origin_5421517469I’m a rubbish patient. Not a demanding one, ringing a bell by the bed, making relentless demands of my carers. Not that kind. As a patient, I am quietly guilt ridden. Agonised by my uselessness. A patient who puts more energy into resisting feeling ill than actually feeling unwell and getting on with it. As a result, it’s fairly common for me to drag myself around for weeks on end, not fully ill, but not fully well either. Much of the time I am able to ignore, or hold off the worst of it, ploughing on, determined not to let things go. Keeping up social engagements, and work, and the kids, all quietly heroic and a teeny bit martyred at the same time, but somehow telling myself that I’m a warrior of sorts.

Which I’m not.

Because if my illness dial gets turned up a notch – perhaps after weekend trip to Legoland, preceded by a week of late nights watching Breaking Bad (for example?!) – and I start feeling worse – my inner warrior becomes something altogether more pathetic and sorry for itself. This so called warrior gets tangled up in a web of shame about my failure to Get Things Done. About my inability to Stay On Top of Things. My inner self critic starts yelling in my brain. I berate myself for not slowing down earlier. I lament that my kids don’t care that I feel like crap, and feel guilty for having to lean more heavily on my husband for support. I get anxious that something is Really Wrong this time as opposed to the never ending run of viral infections that my kids kindly breed and share with me on a daily basis. In short I become a tangly mess. I become vulnerable. I become human.

Because feeling ill is failing to get things done that need to be done. Feeling ill is putting other people in situations they don’t want to be in. Feeling ill is making myself unpopular. Feeling ill is failing to people please, and feeling powerless. Feeling ill is failing. Feeling ill is losing control. Feeling ill is feeling weak, and in need.

Feeling ill is not ‘being there’ for your kids like you want to be. Feeling ill is having an even shorter temper. Feeling ill is wanting to curl in a ball and cry when they ask for anything. Feeling ill is wanting to hide from them until it’s over. Feeling ill is not being who they need you to be. Feeling ill is powering on even though you feel horrid. Feeling ill is pushing yourself when you know you shouldn’t.

Feeling ill is losing your centre. Feeling ill is losing your edges. Feeling ill is sighing inwardly. A lot.

Feeling ill is needing to be dependent. Feeling ill means asking for help. Feeling ill is feeling alone. Feeling ill is needing a rest that’s hard to find.

Feeling ill is staying still and listening. Feeling ill is being quiet. Feeling ill is about finding your limits. Feeling ill is an exercise in self compassion. Feeling ill is freeing, slowing, and fogging. Feeling ill is a practise in letting go.

Feeling ill is watching. Feeling ill is seeing things from a different perspective. Feeling ill is allowing others to care. Feeling ill is about stopping pretending. Feeling ill is admitting you’re not ok. Feeling ill is reaching out and inviting others in. Feeling ill is about connection. Feeling ill is about support.

Feeling ill is an adjustment. Feeling ill is a shift you didn’t plan for. Feeling ill is unpredictable and unwelcome.

Feeling ill happens to everyone. Feeling ill is life. Feeling ill is nothing more than being purely, simply and unashamedly human.

And sometimes, that’s the bit I struggle with most.

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

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