Brené recently had a post titled ‘The Worst Advice EVER’ that really hit home for me. In her post, she writes about her take on a little piece of advice that I’m sure all of us have heard at some point – ‘You can rest when you’re done!’ You can read her post here The Worst Advice Ever
Living with chronic illness and disabilities is an ongoing, daily and often, a moment-by-moment process of redefining my way of being in the world. I’ve often been given advice along the lines of ‘You just have to try harder’; ‘You need to make more of an effort’ or the related ‘You’re not trying hard enough’ and ‘you can be sick when you’re done’. Then there’s that two edged sword that some people try to bring into play, comparing my situation with someone elses. ‘So-and-so has chronic illness too, but it doesn’t seem to stop her. She never uses it as an excuse!’
Do I need to mention the guilt I used to feel (and I admit I sometimes still do) at hearing those? Yes, I think I do. They are comments given by well-meaning friends, family and acquaintances. People who really have no concept or understanding of what it is to be me; to live my life on a daily basis; or even to simply live with chronic illness and chronic pain. Words that are meant lovingly and offered as a gift instead become judgment. And those judgments have the power to create heartache, self-doubt and blame, hardship and yes, physical pain!
I ask you to keep in mind that, if I share something of what I’m experiencing, I am not making excuses. I am not asking for or expecting your sympathy, your pity. I am simply expressing a part of my reality. I ask you also to remember that what I (or any of us!) experience each day, and how I experience it, is going to be different from everyone else – even those who share the same exact illness and disabilities. Our coping mechanisms, our various boundaries, our tolerance levels, our experiences will ALL be different and defined by our individuality.
I can only speak from my own experience; I can only validate myself. ‘You can rest when you’re done’ has a totally different meaning within the context of my life. For me, resting when I’m done means learning to honor myself by listening to my body’s cues. It means finding my own stopping and starting points in everything that I do. It means learning to live in the moment and also learning to be gentle with myself.
How I wish that those were skills that I was able to learn BEFORE becoming ill…because I firmly believe that having those core skills would have helped me to avoid becoming ill to begin with.
If you like the artwork that I'm showing here, I've made it available for you to print! Just go to Be Gentle With Yourself then right click and choose 'print'. Let me know if you print it...this is the first time I've made something available for printing and I'd love to know!