Steve Rosenfield joined fellow Rheumatoid Arthritis advocates at our Joint Decisions Empowerment Summit in Philadelphia almost two weeks ago. Simply put, the What I Be Project by Steve Rosenfield is a “photo project which focuses on building security through insecurities”. If you haven’t heard of this project before, do me a favor and click on the link- it’s an amazing idea.
“I am not my burden”
My biggest insecurity? Asking for help. Accepting help. Feeling deserving of help. My diseases are a burden to myself and to everyone around me- family, friends, coworkers. They are a financial, emotional, physical drain.
My medications are so expensive, why should I feel that it’s ok to spend extra money on getting my hair done or buying lunch? I don’t deserve “treats” because I am a financial drain on my family.
“Can I take your mail for you?” My coworkers regularly took my mail to our mailroom at work after my knee surgery when I wasn’t permitted to use stairs. But now? They still take it. And I feel horribly guilty. Why? Because I feel the need to do everything myself, to prove that my disease isn’t winning. Such an intense need to do everything that I feel bad when others do something as simple as taking my mail along with theirs.
“How are you feeling?” Fine. Right? I’m fine. I’m never actually fine. I am constantly in pain, just a varying levels. But I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t want my family or friends to feel bad for me, pity me. I don’t want them to think of me as a burden and reach out to me less and less.
The truth is, I know better. I know that true family, friends, coworkers want the best for me. I know that they don’t ask me how I’m feeling, to get a canned response. I know this. But, the guilt remains. The burden remains. And by admitting it to the public via this photo project, maybe I can let a little bit go.