Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I spent the morning fussing with the insurance company, contacting a state agency about my retirement, and wading through a massive stack of paperwork for my SSI application. When I got done I was physically exhausted so I rested a bit. But then I felt guilty and shameful. Feeling guilty is my new thing these days. There are days when I almost feel like I could go back to work and I feel guilty and shameful that I am applying for disability. When I do the laundry and the dishes I feel guilty and shameful that I don't also do the housework and take care of the yard. I feel guilty and shameful that Alice is working hard and helping to care for me and I am at home most days being retired, which I never really wanted to be doing, at least at this point in my life. I regret that I am no longer able to work and resent that I got cancer, had complications, regularly get pneumonia, and cannot eat or drink anything by mouth, and so I feel guilty and shameful that I must have done something to bring this on myself. I see my daughter helping to take care of me and I feel guilty and shameful that I am not taking care of her. All this guilt weighs heavily on me. I try to practice mindfulness and be present to the moment but I obsessively think about the past and future. I think about my job that I loved; playing golf which I loved; cooking and eating great food that I loved. I think about what will happen to my family now that I can no longer work and support them. I think about all the things I can't do, or at least do easily, and all the places I had wanted to go aned now can't go very easily and I resent that I am bound to medical technology that limits my life. And I feel guilty and shameful. Intellectually I know that most, if not all of this, is the random workings of the universe and really isn't my fault, so I feel guilty and shameful that I have this burden of guilt and shame. I know that all this guilt and shame will not cultivate the mindfulness to which I aspire, but it is what I feel. I am intentionally committing to be mindful and present and to let go of the burden of my guilt and shame, but it seems very sticky. It doesn't want to let go too easily. When I have sticky stuff on my hands I use soap and water and it comes off. I suspect that there must be a metaphysical equivalent for this sticky guilt and shame and I think I know what it is. I am surrounded by a great cloud of friends and family who are supporting me and I know that I need to reach out to them, without feeling guilty or shameful that I am bothering them, and ask for help when I need it. And throughout the day I need to periodically remember to just be here now. No obsessing about what is past or worrying about what whill happen in the future, just this moment, which is given to us all as the present. If you are reading this then you are probably one of the people who I rely on for help and support, so for my sake, please get off of the computer and start sitting by your phone! Or you could call me if you like. I'm probably home.