As a teenager I was unknowingly experiencing the symptoms of fibromyalgia and sclerosis of the spine, and could never do as much as a typical child my age. I was never in sports or even able to walk very far without getting sore and tired. As I grew up with a mother who’d suffered a minor stroke, and also had fibromyalgia, I became accustomed to being tired all the time and accepted my fatigue as “normal”. My mother, however, was a codependant clean freak who depended on me for her emotional stability. She expected a lot from me, and it was usually more than I was able to provide. I would get frustrated and tell her she expected too much from me, then she would respond with “Other people do it! Other people’s kids help them around the house. Other people’s houses are clean.”. It would always make me feel so ashamed…. so broken. As I grew up it continued. She would say to my ex-husband “I don’t know how you can live with her in that filth.”…. Shame once again.
Today I still feel the shame echo in my head. Now that my symptoms are diagnosed, and notably worse than they were 15 years ago, I am not capable of keeping my house as neatly and beautifully as I’d like to for my family. I see friends of mine on Facebook, post random pictures of their day to day life with their families. Friends with just as many children, whose homes stay much cleaner than mine…. and I hear “Other people can do it…”.
I look at my husband and I’m ashamed. I know he likes a neat and tidy house, and I also know that he understands my pain and fatigue and sets rules and expectations accordingly. He’s so kind and loving to me. Everything he does with and for me and our children is done in love, and never anger or entitlement, and what do I have to give back to him? I messy house, and a wife who can barely move. He loves me anyway… but how can I love myself when my family hurts when I hurt? I know my illness is not my fault, but it isn’t theirs either. It’s hard watch my husband give me everything, and not being able to give him everything in return.
On days like today, I look around and I’m frustrated and guilty… so I push myself to clean and move and run about the house doing things so that they’ll be done…. so the house will be clean. Then I hit my maximum and can’t move anymore… tomorrow I’ll really pay for it and get even further behind. It’s a vicious cycle. But what else do I do? I cannot let my family live in a home that isn’t clean. With six kids on one income it doesn’t exactly leave room in the budget for a house keeper. I wish I had a solution. I cried in my doctors arms on Monday because I want so badly to feel better. But there’s nothing…. nothing to do, but what I can and what I can is not enough.