Resentment…with a side order of guilt.

Resentment and guilt. I have felt both while dealing with my M.S. As all of us with Multiple Sclerosis know,this illness sucks the life right out of you. I mean that in the sense of the tank being empty. You run out of gas as that M.S. fatigue sets in. You turn into a lump of lead. You lay down and that ANVIL Wile E. Coyote used to buy from A.C.M.E. has been laid on your chest. You rest for a while and then start to feel guilty for being in bed so early. “I need to do dishes, laundry, vacuum the carpet, then sweep and mop the tile. I need to go to the grocery store to get dinner and stuff for the kids’ lunch tomorrow. I can’t forget to make cookies for their class this week……” While feeling like a waste of space you attempt to roll out of bed and it is like trying to pull yourself out of a tar pit. Every movement seems harder than the last. You get up, make coffee in a vain attempt to get some energy, and start taking care of your to do list.

Halfway through the list you are miserable. You are so tired you can’t even hold a plate up to wash it. It keeps slipping out of your hand. Damn it, you broke another one. Now you start to get resentful. You can’t stand how people still expect you to be a super mom…..super wife…super worker….and superwoman. At least it feels that way. You hate the fact that everyone else gets to have fun while you, who had to do all the house work by yourself, can’t lift an arm much less do fun things with family and friends. You resent the fact that you are the sick one and that no one helps you. Why is everyone else allowed to be healthy???

Yes we all get resentful living with M.S. It is a bitter pill to swallow but even the nicest of us feel like this once in a while.

With M.S. though, it isn’t just the patient that feels resentment. The partners, husbands, wives, children, friends, family, and even coworkers harbor some resentment toward your M.S.

You take a lot of time off. Of course your coworkers don’t know that the time off is for doctor’s appointments. Or, they think you are on a vacation and living it up. When in reality you are home trying to get past new symptoms from the latest exacerbation.

Friendships can wither as your priorities change. You don’t call as often as you used to and when you do you never feel good. You rarely go out for ‘Girls Night’ anymore. Friends may drift apart.

Partners, husbands, and wives may resent your M.S. because it swallows up so much of your life. Most of your focus is on keeping the Monster at bay. You don’t get to dote on your significant other as much as you used to and sometimes “Romance” takes a back seat. You are too tired, can’t get aroused, can’t reach that peak, and sometimes just hurt. Significant others can feel ignored and neglected.

Children may feel ignored too, because you can’t play as much as you used to or because you are always tired and have to rest. They may be scared. Knowing you are ill, and not having the guarantee of ‘Mommy/Daddy’ is going to get better, can be terrifying. They may get angry with you, thinking it is your fault that you aren’t getting better……Why can’t you go to the game or dance recital, why can’t you take them to the movies, or to the beach for a swim? Is that a child’s version of resentment?

So what can you do? Do we suck it up, force a smile, drink lots of coffee, make phone calls to friends, schedule a date night with your other half, send the kids to the movies with their aunt, and pay someone to come clean you house ….just this once? Most of us probably do some version of this. We try to keep it together, we try to be strong for everyone special in our lives. Sometimes it is too much, but sometimes it is just enough. Enough to remind people how much you really do care.

On the flip side….I also think if we are going to do the suck it up work mentioned above we need ME time. I mean… ALONE….me time. Time to recharge. You can book a night at a hotel and just sleep in the nice cold room, order room service, and watch t.v. Yaaay, you don’t have to clean either . One of the best things would be, not being required to ‘look presentable’. Screw that, I’d make sure there wasn’t anyone to look presentable for. I really do mean ALONE me time. I’d have messy hair, wear my threadbare pajama shorts and tank, go barefooted, and then enjoy a bottle of wine. For the finale, I would put in some ear plugs, drop the room temp to ice box levels, snuggle under the covers, and sleep for as long as I wanted.

Best wishes, and don’t forget to schedule that ME time.