Fibromyalgia Family Life, Living Daily with Chronic Invisible Illness

Fibromyalgia and the Guilt Complex

You may have read on other blogs about how some people with Fibromyalgia lovingly tell friends and family that they cannot attend an event or host a gathering and bow-out “gracefully.” In this post I we will speak about the realities of the guilt involved by doing this and its repercussions on your health.There is no need for a guilt complex!

Fact: Life does not stop just because you have a chronic pain disorder.

This is true. Invitations still arrive in the mail (or on social media) and you still have to decide if it’s in your best interest to attend. You may even take into account the possibility that you might encounter certain people who could (perhaps; most assuredly) throw you into a flare…you know the ones. (I am sure someone just crossed your mind when you read that…)

Scenario #1: You RSVP with the full intention to go. You over-do it the day before and “Viola!” just like that, you have to cancel. Does the person hosting the event know about your condition and understand your need to cancel at the last-minute? Are they supportive? Or worse, do they even care??? Do you care if they care? Do you feel guilty about your decision? Maybe you decide to decline the invite from the beginning because you “just know” that you won’t feel up to it when the day arrives.

Scenario #2: You RSVP and the day arrives; you make yourself go. After all, you never go out. Your friends and family have made mention of their concern that you’ve become reclused. Are you going because you want to go or because you’re trying to convince others you’re not as bad as they think you are? Are you still in denial about your condition? Are you trying to convince yourself you’re not as bad as you think???

Scenario #3: You have accepted that this is the life the Lord has given to you. You understand that you have limitations and that pacing is vital to your health and outlook. You RSVP with the added note saying you will do your best to attend, but until the day of, you won’t know for sure. The day comes and your joints are super-achey, almost burning (is it raining??) and you decide to make an appearance to keep your own moral boosted. You see old friends and “that one person” whom you don’t let get to you (self-preservation). You go home and collapse, but have a decent memory to add to your collection.

Which scenario most fits your life?

Fact: Family is harder to handle than friends.

Why is this a fact? Because families have high expectations. They remember the you that you were and have a hard time (believing, dealing with) the fact that you have changed. Of course, no one asks to be in constant pain every moment of everyday. Change is inevitable. That is a fact.

Do family members understand when you must cancel? What about those certain family members whose lives seemingly revolve around themselves? An invite may be to come over just “because”….”You just have to come over and (help, be with) me!” “I know you have plans today (to rest because you need to rest), but I need you more.” Then you feel guilty. You think, maybe I am being selfish. He (or she) does need help with (whatever it is). It won’t hurt to go over there. Let’s not talk about how “over there” may mean a longer drive than you are physically able to achieve…and the after-effects will keep you down the next day.

Maybe it is not too far to travel. Maybe it is just going next door. But you know your body needs to rest…

Is that selfish? No. It is NOT being selfish. If you choose to not rest and go do whatever, where ever, then you must understand that it’ll be at a cost to you. A cost to your health. A cost to your pain. Is it worth it?

What about the invites that come from family for parties, showers or weddings? Are they as easy to dismiss?

Again, you can only do what you feel capable of doing. You cannot let guilt over take you. That, my friend will help you meet your demise.

Fact: It is hard to say “No.”

Yes, for many people this is a fact. I am one of them. I am a doer who likes to do. I am a cleaner who likes to clean. I am a gardener who likes to garden. I am a chef who likes to cook. I am a parent who likes to nurture. I am a teacher who likes to teach. I am a wife who likes to be one. I am….I am…I am…I am a person with Fibromyalgia. I still am all those persons above, only different. I am still me, only different. I have to say “No” now when before I always said “Yes!” I am my worst enemy and my only friend. Everyday is a battle. Saying “No” does not define me. It releases me. It allows me to become a better person with my condition. I cannot allow this new way of living to make me feel guilt.

Do you feel you can “bow-out” of an invitation gracefully? Why or why not? With understanding of your chronic health condition(s) comes freedom. You are not alone. You can fight this. You MUST fight this. Family will always be family. Friends will come and friends will go, but true friends see the pain in your eyes while you’re finding that lost smile of yesterday. You have one life to live. Do it by choosing your battles and pacing yourself. Don’t let the disease define you. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for saying “No.”


If this post has blessed you, please share it with others! We Fibros need to stick together!

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