No one is as hard on me as me.
The context of this idea came to me 13 days into an illness. It wasn’t the flu, a sinus infection, an ear infection or bronchitis. I didn’t have the fever to warrant antibiotics and I didn’t have enough symptoms to make even a trip to the ER worth it. I knew they’d say, “yup, your ears are stuffed up”. I knew that the treatment would be a combination of Mucinex and Benadryl and Motrin for pain and rest. Lots of fluids. You know when you’re playing Wii Golf and you hit the ball way to hard? That was the noise I heard in my ear whenever I blew my nose.
This stupid virus was interfering with my life! I had plans! Big plans! I was spending over an hour every day on the treadmill. I was writing 1000 words a day in addition to leading the fastest growing writers’ group on Facebook. I was marketing my new release. I was homeschooling 5 children. I couldn’t afford to be sick.
And for a moment or two there, I thought I had let myself down. I can’t meet my goals if I’m sick. I can’t. I can only do the basics.
It’s hard to go from Super Mom mode to snothead. It’s hard to decide that you just don’t have the energy to write today. It’s hard to realize that the Benadryl is making it way too difficult to do anything but watch The Lego Movie for the millionth time. It’s also easy to slip into self pity when you’re confident that the amount of stuff that’s come out of your nose is way more than the volume your nasal cavity can hold.
I should have taken the opportunity to be kind to myself. I should have said this: Just rest. Just close your eyes. Just think about something else. Don’t think about the things that are not getting done. Don’t think that your book will not be marketed properly because you coughed up three lungs today. Don’t worry about it.
I should have fought against the self condemnation in the same way that antibiotics would have fought off an infection. If someone around me couldn’t fulfill their obligation to me because they were sick, wouldn’t I have grace for them? Why don’t I have grace for myself?
I know why. Or at least I know partly why. I know that my mother never reduced my workload when I was sick. I was taught to tough it out. I was taught to shut up and get over it because there was work to do. I was taught that sickness was for the weak. All I’m doing this for is attention. If I had been working harder, I would have never been sick.
I need to change my thinking. I need to learn to love myself.
Top Ten Ways To Love Yourself When You’re Weak
Be realistic about what you can and can’t do.
Take cues from your body and your family.
Stick to a schedule.
Get back to the basics. Enough sleep, water, right food etc.
Lower your expectations. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Celebrate what you can do.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Ask for help. Delegate responsibilities. Ask to move the deadline.
Think positive thoughts.
There is, despite what I was told as a child, no shame in being sick. There is however, a lot of shame in not believing that you’re worth the effort of self-care. Maybe I’ll learn my lesson and be a better patient next time. Now, to print this and paste it next to the Mucinex and Benadryl.