For a long while now I’ve known that I need to work on the self-imposed guilt I experience whenever I bail on something. Very often I overbook my schedule during a particularly healthy time, and once I get caught in a migraine cycle I find myself canceling one thing after another.
Today I had both routine and exciting things to do, and I cancelled most of them. Going to the hospital to pay a bill for a completely ineffective August ER visit (for migraine)? Didn’t make it. I emailed the billing office to let them know I’d drop by later in the week, but I still felt bad for not going. If I back away from the situation, I realize it’s ridiculous to feel guilty because of this. The hospital will not fall apart if it gets my (gasp!) $1100 check tomorrow instead of today. The woman who’s been working with me will not suddenly decide I am a worthless person (then again, if she did think that, why should it matter to me? Clearly that would indicate that she has bigger issues than my not showing up).
I cancelled plans to drive to Atlanta to hear a couple of authors speak. I felt mildly stressed emailing my Athens buddy to tell her I wouldn’t be driving us; I felt mildly guilty letting my Atlanta friend know that I wouldn’t be there after all and she didn’t need to pack up books to donate to my bookstore.
Both friends emailed back right away to say “no problem.” Well, they wrote more than that, but the essence of the messages was NO PROBLEM.
And that’s the thing, see? I’m the one who’s putting this pressure on myself. The hospital lady’s day will go by without a hitch if I don’t show. My friends will be fine if I have to cancel plans. I don’t want to say that no one cares, 'cause I don’t want to suggest that they don’t care about me. What I should say is no one close to me values some party or event or date more than my health—they’d rather I take care of myself when need be than force myself to do something my body isn’t prepared to do.
I’ve talked about guilt on this blog before and know that many of you deal with it, too. I realized that this post was written just over two years ago—why is it that I can recognize this self-imposed guilt problem but can’t shake it? I suppose it takes consistent, continual work to remember that the guilt trippin’ doesn’t help anyone.
Which are you most sensitive to?