I refuse to apologize for my chronic illness or the accommodations I have to make because of them.
When I make plans with someone, but end up having to cancel – I do not get down on myself. When I have to move things around at work, take a day off, or ask for help – I do not feel less than, or like I’m not pulling my weight. I do not feel shame when talking about my lupus and the limitations it causes. It has not always been that way for me. I used to feel all of those things: shame, inadequacy, embarrassment… I was so afraid in the beginning that people would see me differently; that they would judge me if I couldn’t keep up the “everything’s great” facade up. But as time went on, I physically could not keep pretending. I was drowning in my disease and I couldn’t deal with that and still exert the energy that it takes to pretend that everything is ok. So when I couldn’t keep pretending, I started apologizing…for everything!
‘Can’t make it into work, I’m so sorry’
‘Have a doctor’s appointment that day, so sorry’
‘I can’t make it out tonight, I have fluid around my heart…I’m sorry!’
‘I’m sorry I missed your call, got admitted to the hospital and I’m just now looking at it’
(yes I really have apologized for being in the hospital)
I finally realized that I have nothing to apologize for! I cannot control lupus or fibromyalgia, so why am I apologizing (and genuinely feeling bad for) the inconvenience that me being sick may cause someone else. The moment I wasn’t burdened by keeping this monumental thing in my life a secret and the shame of having it in the first place, it freed up so much energy to focus on healing myself. I cannot control when I flare up, but I can control how I react to it, and if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that the shame that leads me to incessantly apologize for my shortcomings eats up so much energy and is utterly fruitless.
I have good days where I can actually leave my house and work a full day from the office or go out with friends, and those are wonderful, but then there are still days that aren’t so good where I have to cancel plans and stay in bed all day; and I’m not sorry for that. I am not sorry that my body needs to rest. I am certainly not sorry for putting my health first. I have a disease where my body is literally attacking itself, and I wake up every day and do my very best – there is nothing about that, that I need to apologize for.
I want to hear from you, leave me your thoughts in the comments!