I wish I could wave a magic wand and take away all of Cee’s guilt. Lyme has horrible physical symptoms, but I think in many ways the emotional symptoms can be the hardest to live with.
(Disclaimer: I don’t live in a Lyme body. I just keep one company all the time.)
I watch Cee struggling with this disease and all the challenges she faces physically. I help with those as much as I can. But what really frustrates me is when I can’t talk her down out of all of her guilt for having Lyme. It causes her so much pain, and I can’t do anything about it.
Emotional pain can’t be cured by logic, and Lyme comes with an incredible amount of emotional pain. You are the cause of a drastic change in lifestyle, are a financial burden, and can’t be there for the ones you love. Lyme becomes you world, because controlling your Lyme is your survival. All of that brings tremendous guilt.
It’s not your fault.
I keep telling Cee it’s not her fault. She didn’t go running into a hot bed of ticks with a Bite Me sign on her. She didn’t plan to be in pain for years and almost die just for the fun of it. It happened. It’s life. I love her, and I’m committed to sharing this journey with her, no matter what.
Does that ease the guilt? No. In fact, it made it worse for a long time, I think. There would be evenings where she would burst into tears and threaten to leave me so she wouldn’t be a burden any more. She’d cry that she was holding me back from life.
There were times, and I’m being very honest here, when we both discussed suicide… for her, as an end to the suffering and fear, and for me because I couldn’t live without her. There were times when this illness brought both of us to the brink of oblivion.
It’s not your fault. Don’t judge.
I’ve been studying something called Emotional Brain Training (EBT) to help me cope with all of this. (More about that in another post.) I’ve learned that when Cee gets into a guilty and self-blaming mode, the best thing I can do for her, the only thing I can do for her, is to just stay calm and repeat in a soft voice, “It’s not your fault. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t judge. Don’t judge.” I keep repeating that mantra until she calms down.
Don’t judge yourself. It’s not your fault. It will pass. Don’t judge.
She tells me that when I first started saying this she just wanted to fight me and argue about it. I just kept my cool and didn’t react. I just kept on repeating my mantra slowly, quietly, until she calmed down. Now I do it any time I can feel her starting to beat herself up over things. It’s helped her cope better with her illness. The important thing about Lyme is to control your emotional state. Getting emotional about negative things, like guilt and self-blame, creates chemical changes in the body that aggravate the Lyme. If you can help your Lymie by talking them down out of that destructive state of guilt and blame, you will be helping them control their disease.
- Does your loved one take on a lot of guilt? How do you react to that? How do you feel about it?