Chronic illness feels like an abusive relationship. I should know, I was in one.
I only just made this analogy yesterday. A friend was talking about a controlling relationship which her daughter, M., is stuck with until M.’s child turns 18. Every time she gets thru one crisis with the father of her child, who feeds on her angst like a shark feeds on a flailing, tasty human, calm returns and for a while she feels some semblance of normalcy.
She goes on living as if no further emotional assault will occur, and is truly re-traumatized each and every time. How could this be happening again????…..the raging powerlessness I know she feels as he uses their child as a pawn between them, a pawn in a game she cannot win.
She will not use Solomon’s sword. He would.
Jump back to me, stuck in bed again with my lupus flare. Like it or not, stuck with it. My body, my life, my work, my marriage, my family – all affected by this nasty disease. Assaulted by it. And I feel powerless, and furious…. so furious…. a raging powerlessness in a fight I cannot win. A fight which will probably kill me. An abusive relationship doesn’t get much worse than that.
And then I feel better again, a semblance of normalcy is restored (key word semblance) , until the next assault by the disease. At which point I feel shocked and traumatized that the flare has flattened me again. Just like M. feels.
There’s nothing we can do about it, right?
Wrong, actually. I heard myself advising M.’s mom that M. needs to accept that it is what it is. He will never change. His tactics will never change. I would imagine any boxer would tell you its the punch they didn’t see coming that knocked them out. So…umm…when are M. and I going to admit to ourselves that she had a child with a power and control freak, and I have a very serious medical condition which does not go away just because I get remissions?
What we both need to do is to see it coming, know its coming, but accept the breaks in between with the grace, joy and wisdom to appreciate the present. When you know its coming you can have a back up plan. For her it might be disengaging from his game and gathering the support she needs. Not to detail her victimization but to go out with her friends for a good time, or treat herself to a day at the spa. It won’t change a blessed thing about the situation, but regardless of whether she suffers or pampers herself while he does his thing- nothing else will change. So since it is what it is, I vote for pampering at such times. Nurturing herself rather than berate herself because she can’t win.
So, as is often the case, in giving my friend advice I gave it to myself. I stopped fighting this flare today and accepted the reality that I need to take a week off from work even though I HATE canceling clients. I decided to take advantage of the abusive (insert your favorite curse word here) lupus and treat myself. I mean, just because I can’t go to work doesn’t mean I can’t work on my hobbies which I never have enough time for. I can decoupage, make jewelry, plan craft projects, read, watch movies, all from the comfort of my nice snuggy bed. It won’t change anything, but…to tell you the truth… I am actually looking forward to my week off now…
It is what it is. 😉