Don't Stay Sorry For Yourself

"Don’t feel sorry for yourself." Another phrase people say to shut down my emotions. Is it better to live a lie that makes other people feel more comfortable, at the expense of myself? Of course I feel sorry for myself. My diabetes has been a bitch lately. No matter what I do I have high blood sugars. Low blood sugar can kill me in minutes. High blood sugar is what leads to all the diabetes horror stories. I’m frustrated and angry.

All day long I see people who don’t live like this, people who have no idea what it is like to have their body betray them. I want to trade bodies. I can’t, and that makes me even more frustrated. Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for myself is liberating. When I feel sorry for myself I’m being honest. I’m grieving the loss of my own body. Unlike grieving the death of my mom, there isn’t a moment where I can find resolution. With my mom, I can tell myself, “She’s not suffering anymore.” With my chronic illnesses, it’s not like that. My own suffering goes on.

Of course I feel sorry for myself. When I acknowledge how I feel, I give myself a moment to take the mask off and be real. So many things in life are phony. Feeling sorry for myself makes sense sometimes. When I’m frustrated and unhappy, I allow myself to feel it all. I let it rise into a tantrum when I need to. I let my tears fall. I become my own personal thunderstorm. For a while, anyway. Grief and chronic illness go together. To have a chronic illness is to always be aware of loss.

Telling someone, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself,” doesn’t help. It just shuts down the freedom to be real. Being real is more valuable to me than a fake smile. I did enough pretending when I was a Christianus Sickus, pretending to be beatified by my illness. Now I get to admit that it sucks sometimes, because it does suck sometimes.

Instead of telling myself, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself,” I say, “Don’t stay sorry for yourself.” Wallow for a while. An hour. A day. A month. Even a year if necessary. As long as it takes to let the pain out. Then I can stand back up inside. Self pity is a place I visit, not a place I stay. I don’t want to live in a permanent thunderstorm, raining down pain on myself. I need to build shelters in the rain, because the rain isn’t going anywhere. This blog is my shelter in the rain. If you need a shelter, you’re welcome to join me here.

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