Breakdown and a Revelation

I recently came to a revelation.

I have known for a long time now that I am disabled, and because of this, I am unable to work. I tried to work twice, and both times, I had to quit because of my poor health. The second time, I wound up in the hospital and I tried going back to work after that only to have my health take a nosedive, so I had to quit. I took a few months to recover from the sudden decline in health, and when I finally had some energy back, I agreed with myself, as well as people in my life close to me, that I should apply for disability and come to terms with the fact that my body is simply not equipped to work. I would be a stay-at-home cat mom and full-time housewife.

I put expectations on myself through the lens of society’s judgement of what a person should do if they do not go to work. I expected myself to be able to do household chores and volunteer work in my community while my fiancée worked diligently at his factory job to keep us fed and housed. I had this fairytale image of myself being some kind of domestic goddess, keeping a perfectly clean home and serving five-star food at every meal. If I did not have a job to go to, I felt the societal pressure that this was the least I could do.

My new revelation, as I have seen myself struggling over and over to keep up with my own high-set expectations, is this:

I can’t always do it. And that’s okay. If I had the energy to always keep up with those chores and cook all those meals without having a negative impact on my health, I could probably handle a job. I would not consider myself disabled.

The fact is, chores in my house pile up on me a lot. Or- at least, they used to before I had a recent breakdown that led me to the realization that I needed help- that I could not keep up with simple everyday tasks that everyone is expected to do, whether they work or not.

As I curled up in Justin’s arms and cried my eyes out last week, I swallowed my pride and admitted to him, and honestly to myself, that I needed help. I could not do this on my own. It hurt to have to admit my limitations again, but I laid out the truth in all its vulnerability, and asked him to help take some of the load off of me. I needed him to start helping me out with household chores, even on top of the long work hours he endures at the factory.

It was such a strange feeling, admitting all that aloud. I was relieved to get it off my chest, but having to say those words aloud utterly destroyed me in that moment. It was crushing, and I cried and shook for what felt like a very long time.

Being the incredibly supportive and wonderful partner he is, Justin promised me he would do more. He reassured me that everything was going to be okay, and reminded me that most people do their own chores after work anyway. He was willing to sacrifice some of the time he normally puts into video games after work into doing a little more around the house to help ease the burden on me. I believe his words were “I need to stop being such a lazy-ass”, at which I laughed through my tears and reminded him that he works eleven hour shifts at a factory. Lazy my ass. He’s the real MVP.

Coming to terms with my limits, being kind to my body, and keeping my expectations reasonable, has been such a relief. This doesn’t mean I have completely shirked my duties, or that I have chosen not to do housework when I actually have the energy. I am not giving myself permission to be lazy and not do chores since I know Justin is there to pick up the slack. No, not at all. It just means that when I know my body is telling me it’s time to rest, I can listen to it without feeling guilty for doing so.

Not having the looming pressure of keeping up with an able-bodied society’s expectations and learning to let it go when I’m misjudged by people who just don’t understand is the best decision I have made for my health in a very long time.

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