Whilst I was on holiday I read a book called The woman who went to bed for a year by Sue Townsend. I picked it up thinking that judging by the title I could probably relate to it. Anyway I didn't find much similarity and whilst I didn't much like the book ( I know what it's like to go to bed for a year and it's not as fantastical as the events in the book) the reasoning behind why she went to bed in the first place is very commonplace. To give you a quick brief, not to spoil it for those who may want to read it, the woman that goes to bed takes to her bed does so on the day that her twins go off to university. She sees this as a landmark to relinquish all her responsibilities. The tasks that as a wife, mother and houseowner she is expected to undertake and instead to get people to look after her for a change.
Expectations are something we are all familiar with. Whether it's as a child and being expected to be on your best behaviour and to always try your best. To the expectations we have in our jobs and personal lives. But how much of what we percieve is expected of us is real and how much is what we believe is expected of us? Has something that we believe that we are expected to do has simply become habit. To use the example of someone that always cooks the dinner, has this become habit, something that you have gotten used to doing or are you genuinely expected to do so? Do you fear that if you didn't do something then you would be percieved as lazy or neglectful? To put things into perspective if again for example you never cooked dinner would you cause your loved ones to starve? Would it cause an argument? These are all things that can run through our minds. Irrational things but things that keep us in the habit of doing something.
One trick is to learn where the expectation that you feel stems from. Or from whom it comes from. Could it be stereotypical or gender related? Remember in my post about personality, in particular type A personalities I spoke about how it appears many more women develop ME than men and how this can be down to the amount of roles that women take on. Like the character in the book for example. I have heard many 'older' women with ME say that some of their expectation stems from their own Mothers. If they do not have a meal on the table for when their partner comes in from work then they hear their mothers voice saying that that is part of a wifes role. Of course it can be applied to many situations. And can be built upon. The more you do something because you feel you are expected to do so the more that you are expected to do it. What we can often find though is that a lot of our expectations stem from within ourselves. We live in an age now where we do take on many roles. Where we can get information and answers quickly. And we want them quickly because we can't afford to waste time. Time can mean money. This is all particularly true if you have a type A personality. You can literally become your own worst enemy with the things that you expect of yourself.
But when you become chronically ill what happens to those expectations? It can be difficult to no longer do the things that others have become used to you doing. That you have grown accustomed to doing. The fear that people will think that you are being lazy. That you don't work so you should be able to cook, clean or pick the kids up from school. That if you don't do it no one will. Or they won't do as good a job as you would have done. All that has to somehow become tolerable. And while it is so easy to think that you are letting your standards slip and even being disgusted with yourself, thinking like that can be dettremental to your health. Somehow you have to learn to let things go and let others do things for you. And to get them accustomed to the idea that they need to do much more for you. So that you can just focus on getting through the day as best as you can. But it can be demoralising, heartbreaking even. Especially if you were highly independant and active before you became ill.
I still on occasion have trouble dropping off to sleep because I feel that I have not done anything that day. Like somehow I have not fulfilled some quota of activity. Asthough to warrant sleep and signal the end of the day so much needs to happen before then. I realise that this is a part of my type A personality and I know that theres a chance that I will always have similar feelings. Afterall I'm not sure if I would like to be completely at home with the idea of 'not having tried.' I know I must change those expectations on myself. Learn to say "you did the best that you possibly could within the circumstances of today." And not chastise myself if that is only to get out of bed once that day. On the other hand I know that I am very lucky to be surrounded by people that will do a lot for me, without question. That when I can do things for myself that they realise how much of an achievement it is for that day and accept that tomorrow I may not be able to do it and therefore they don't place that expectation on me. Yes, given the circumstances I think that I am a lucky bunny.