Today I find myself caught in a dilemma that has become all too common and familiar. Should I stay home, or should I go out? In the heart of a flare, when I find myself in “bare minimum mode,” this question resurfaces again and again, and I must decide between the comfort of my home where body will hopefully be restored or friends and community which will feed my isolated soul. The pain I suffer leads to isolation for the simple reason that going out leads to more pain. And so I turn a switch and move to survival mode, focusing on only the bare necessities of life – going to work, eating, sleeping, resting, and repeating. The house falls into disarray, the friend in need goes unhelped, my relationships are put on hold, and I go through each day with the sole goal of holding on and making it to the end. Surviving with no hope of thriving.
And this is when the guilt begins to surface. When I want to attend these activities, and when I believe that others expect or want me to attend, I am overcome with guilt. Because, it is not that I am unable to attend, it is that I have carefully sorted through the pros and cons of each option and determined that going will do more harm than good. I have carefully laid out in my mind the amount of energy I have available and where that energy will be allocated. Should I decide to go out, I may not have energy to go to work tomorrow or to make dinner for my family, so I often choose to stay.
Oh, the torment of deciding. Weighing so many different factors, considering both my own good and the good of others, putting this through some complex equation in my mind that I do not fully grasp and seeing what convoluted answer emerges on the other side. Because there is always doubt that I have in some way skewed the equation and come to the wrong answer, disappointing both myself and others.
Tonight, I am choosing to stay home instead of attending a goodbye party for friends who are moving. And I feel guilty. I’m not going because I want to get better and because I do not want to be in pain. I reason that I need a few more weeks of bare minimum mode to help me get back on track. On this particular occasion, little doubt exists that this may be the wrong decision. I know for a fact that going would impede any chance of climbing out of this flare. But the guilt still remains, despite my certainty I have chosen well.
And so I question where this guilt is coming from. Perhaps I have some twisted perception that I am needed in the group, and I am letting the group down by not being there. I think the difficulty lies in my inability to know how I will feel ahead of time. Committing ahead of time has become a great burden, as following through with my word is of utmost importance to me. Perhaps the moral of the story is that I need to commit to less right now. Perhaps I need to lay down my pride of feeling as though I am needed and humble myself to take care of myself without fear of other’s disappointment.
I lay here sorting through these questions.
When you find yourself in bare minimum mode, do you feel guilty for not “doing enough”? How do you work through this guilt?