She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I feel like I am a burden on my family.
I was born with an incurable and degenerative congenital disability that has caused me to be in constant pain all my life and which is gradually reducing my mobility and ability to care for myself. I also developed Fibromyalgia six years ago which has made my situation even more difficult.
My family plays a large part in my care as I cannot afford a carer. I feel like an absolute burden to them, and whilst I know they don't resent having to help me, it does limit their freedom.
I will turn 32 soon, and that is making certain thoughts more difficult to deal with. My disability will not shorten my life but will eventually cause me to be wheelchair bound, and unable to even do the simplest of things.
Looking at the future makes me worry about the increasing part that my family will have to play in my care and I hate that I'm causing them difficulty, but there isn't another way.
I don’t know how to deal with this.
Things are hard enough living in constant pain, and I barely have the energy to function at a reasonable level, and it makes trying to come up with coping very difficult.
I need to learn how to deal with this as it is tearing me apart.
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I am so sorry that you’ve had to deal with chronic illness your entire life. I have watched many of my friends and loved ones navigate the myriad of invisible problems that arise when every day is a battle against pain in the body. My heart goes out to you.
Here’s the thing — your illnesses are not your fault.
Your family has made it clear to you that they don’t resent you, as you said in your email. You need to remember that. Your family loves you. I know you don’t want to make their lives inconvenienced, but I am 100% sure that they are grateful for your presence.
As a parent, even when it’s hard, even when I am tired and overworked, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world. While your needs may be more significant because of the illnesses, I am sure that their love supersedes the extra care involved.
Don’t create guilt for yourself over things you have no control over.
It can be so hard to forgive ourselves when our bodies don’t cooperate. While not entirely the same, before I had my second child, I had four miscarriages and then lost a baby when I went into labor too early. I’d never before felt like I had less control yet all the responsibility for the pain my entire family went through.
In addition to treating my depression, which I already had been, I began digging deep with spiritual work that provided me with the tools of acceptance.
The bottom line of what you are struggling with is acceptance.
Learning acceptance, learning to accept that there are things I cannot control — be that with my body or my depression or the world or the way others behave or react. Once I actively began to sit in acceptance of how things were rather than how I pined for them to be, I experienced relief.
I encourage you to speak with your family about your concerns. Don’t sit alone in them. Do some reading or audiobook listening or guided meditation and get in touch with acceptance.
I am sure that as someone dealing with chronic and degenerative illness, acceptance has been a lifelong lesson. Even for those without those mitigating conditions, it is challenging, but I promise you that working on it will give you some relief.
So, homework… speak with your family, if you can talk with a therapist or doctor about any underlying depression or anxiety, please do, and give yourself the gift of searching for acceptance through spiritual practice. I truly believe it will provide you with some respite from these feelings.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m listening to, the winter solstice, Moonstone, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo