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Avoiding The Chronic Illness Pigeonhole Of Self Absorption

Fallen into the ‘self-absorption’ trap of your chronic illness, and can’t get up?

I’m treading on fragile ground here by suggesting we look at avoiding the chronic illness pigeonhole of self absorption. Know that I speak only from my own experience, and that this post is most definitely not a ‘one size fits all’. So, if some or all of this pertains to you, and you can walk away with something helpful…great! If not, my only hope is that you will not leave offended or defensive. Remember, I am not trying to ‘pigeonhole’ everyone who is experiencing the terrible effects of chronic illness as ‘self-absorbed’. (see what I did there?) 😉

When you are uncomfortable, or in pain to any degree, it is difficult to not have that be the main focus of your attention. After all, it’s how we are built. Pain and discomfort are ‘red flags’ your body throw up to let you know something has gone terribly wrong, and you are to heed the situation immediately. But, what happens when this becomes a part of the rest of your life?

It's easy to get introspective (even a bit obsessed) about your illness. Click To Tweet

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There are times when the effects of our chronic illnesses make us so miserable that it is impossible not to be completely focused on our own immediate needs. That is more than OK. For the most part, our loved ones are understanding when we are in a state of genuine distress.

However, if you are like me, it’s easy to get introspective (even a bit obsessed) about your illness. Why, you may even start a website on it! LOL! 😂 But seriously, that is one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to explore the encouragement and positivity that can be found in living with chronic illness. I wanted to share these discoveries with others in order to help bring ‘balance’ to the darker side of the reality of living with chronic pain and sickness.

Along the way though, I fell into a ‘self-absorption’ that strained my marriage and personal relationships. I became so focused on ‘my internal chronic world’, that I did not realize I was putting unnecessary stress on the patience of those around me. I say ‘unnecessary’ because, although there are times when my illness is in the forefront and needs to be addressed, there are also times when it can wait and be set to the side. Meaning that, it simply does not have to always have the loudest voice in the room. {Remember, I am only talking about my own experience! I am in no way casting judgement on anyone else. Just on myself.}

Chronic illness is a thief that can steal more from you than you ever intended to give up. Click To Tweet

Avoiding The Chronic Illness Pigeonhole Of Self Absorption

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Here are a few ways I have found that work to balance the reality of living day-to-day with chronic illness, without allowing it to take complete control of my life and relationships ~

We can take back much of the control that being chronically ill will rob us of if we let it. Click To Tweet

Avoiding The Chronic Illness Pigeonhole Of Self Absorption

  • Ask: Is It Really Necessary To Share?  Again, there are times when physical needs take precedence over everything else, but there are times when the priority level is low enough that I can keep it to myself and deal with it. The health of my relationships demands I keep the minutiae of every ache & pain I deal with to myself. It helps me to reverse the roles, and put myself into the other person’s shoes…it would wear on me too after a while.

  • Ask: Is It Really That Bad?   Yeah, sometimes it is. Sometimes though, I’m feeling sorry for myself, or I’m upset about other things that are exacerbating my symptoms. This is when I find a place to be alone and pray. I have conversations with the ‘Lover of my soul’ with whom I can say anything and everything to. Things I would never be able to share with another living soul. It is one of the greatest privileges I posses.

  • Ask: Am I Able To Meet A Need Of Their’s Over Mine?  It may be as simple as listening without interrupting. Allowing that person to vent, or share something from their day. So often, it is the simplest things that people really want from us.

Chronic illness is a thief that can steal more from you than you ever intended to give up. Intimate relationships are a price too high to pay. True, we have no control over the decisions that others may make, but we do have responsibility for our own choices. We can take back much of the control that being chronically ill will rob us of if we let it.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Federica
    October 6 at 4:26 am

    sono Federica, scrivo da Genova in Italia ed ho la fibromialgia da 11 anni. Ti ringrazio per questo post, mi ha aiutato davvero tanto! grazie mille Kristine!

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 7 at 9:13 pm

      You are so welcome Federica! I am glad it helped! ♥ to you in Italy 🙂

  • Reply
    Nikki
    October 9 at 7:54 am

    Kristine, this is a great topic, and I was there, still am sometimes. For the first 3 years after my diagnosis I was very limited with what I could do. I still am, but I work more to conserve energy for things that will take more out of me. In the beginning it really bothered me that people refused to understand and would constantly ask me to do things that were beyond my capabilities. They still do, but instead of trying to explain why I can’t do something, which seems to take me back to what I can’t do, I make excuses. It sounds like a cop out, but I have learned that no matter how many times I explain my limitations that it’s truly not understood. So I save us all the frustration. I don’t think that those who don’t have a chronic disease can put themselves in our position. I know I couldn’t before I got here. So, unless I feel a flare coming on I mostly keep my mouth shut. It has to be hard on others to keep hearing complaints so I try to keep them to myself for the most part. Great advice and tips to help us all enjoy life more. xx
    Nikki recently posted…Social Media Blast – Facebook Week – I “Like” It!My Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 9 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you Nikki! I know exactly what you mean. I do the same thing when I’m in a serious flare. Have a wonderful, ‘flare free’ week! 😉

  • Reply
    Claire
    October 9 at 12:17 pm

    I have the utmost respect for people who have to deal with this on a regular basis. I had a horrible 2nd pregnancy with complications and a lot of pain and discomfort, and after it was all over and beautiful boy was here, I could start to heal. It as only then that I realised that for the last 6+ months or so, I had been constantly in a state of misery, not just internally but almost like a cloud that followed me everywhere. The positive comments I started to get as I healed and felt myself again were almost overwhelming. It’s hard to see how low and ‘self-absorbed’ you are really being when you’re in the middle of it! Thank you for writing such an honest post xxx #smallvictoriessundaylinkup

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 9 at 11:02 pm

      You’re so welcome Claire! I’m glad the ‘fog lifted’ for you. Then you can REALLY enjoy your beautiful baby!♥

  • Reply
    Valerie
    October 11 at 1:00 pm

    I am so guilty of this so many times! It is difficult to keep balanced, especially on flare days. Good reminders too about filling the needs of others. I need to practice more of this. Love your writing.

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 14 at 9:01 am

      Thank you so much Valerie! And I know what you mean, balance seems to be the most difficult thing! ♥

  • Reply
    Brittany W
    October 12 at 11:09 am

    It can be so easy to fall into a trap of “me Me me” when you’re chronically ill. Especially during a flare.
    Brittany W recently posted…Since I’ve Been GoneMy Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 14 at 8:55 am

      Me too! Thank you Brittany 😉

  • Reply
    Jill AnnMarie
    October 24 at 8:59 pm

    Great read. I was thinking about writing an article like this for my blog. Its something I struggle with daily and wanted to talk about why it can really damage the relationships we have around us. I am so thankful for other bloggers out there sharing their stories. It helps us all connect and know we are not alone. Thank you.

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 24 at 9:50 pm

      I agree Jill! Looking forward to reading your article! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ashton
    December 12 at 6:33 pm

    Great article! Us sufferers from chronic illness know great pain and frustration and we don’t mean to get so focused on ourselves, but it’s inevitable when our bodies betray us and that’s all we can feel. If you’re blessed enough to get a great partner they will stick with you through this journey and find ways to support you. But it’s pivotal to remember that we must do the hard work ourselves and take the steps to recovery so we can live the best quality life we can, for ourselves and for our loved ones. It’s so so easy to become obsessed with our illness and neglect the emotional needs of our partner. But with practice and grace everything will be okay. Thanks for writing this. I needed this today.

    • Reply
      kristine
      December 12 at 8:43 pm

      You and me both Ashton! 😉 Thank you for the encouragement of your comment, I always appreciate positive reinforcement 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

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