By Brigitte Shipman | Jan 2, 2021. | Autism Moms, Guilt, Self-Care
Guilt wears many hats when we experience this emotion. I personally have battled feeling guilty on most days.
I despise feeling guilty. It is an all-consuming feeling in my gut that at times can nauseate me. I believe the worst guilt feeling for me is when I really feel like I need to have space just for me, but I feel I have responsibilities that need to come before myself.
Guilt consumes me when my energy gets low and all I want is to have small pieces of space where it is truly all about me. I can feel the guilt creeping in just thinking about it.
Where does guilt come from? Is there a guilt spectrum that we all live on? These are questions that I have been asking myself as I help autism moms navigate their guilt.
I believe that guilt comes in all shapes and sizes. I am not sure that guilt is easy to identify within oneself.
I know that guilt sometimes is a manipulation tool to get someone to do something that they don’t want to do. I have been guilted many times and sadly I have guilted others too, without much awareness.
Either way it does not feel good inside myself. It feels completely icky for a lack of a better descriptive word. The hardest form of guilt I recognize is when we guilt ourselves.
Let’s look at guilt from the perspective of an autism mom. You desperately want a break from your busy, hectic, but loving life. You want free time just for you, not to run errands or research for answers, dental appointments, or going to the grocery store but to relax and enjoy yourself.
But you feel guilty to take time out for yourself when your child and everyone else need you. You also feel guilty to ask for help to make this happen.
Now, imagine putting that guilt on the shelf for a moment and giving yourself time to do whatever you would like to do. This is just for you to relax and enjoy yourself. Imagine yourself relaxing and reading a book, or going for an uninterrupted walk, lunch with your girlfriends, completely guilt free. Doesn’t that feel good?
Setting free time up and making it happen may feel like it isn’t worth all that you need to do to make it happen. It feels complicated and even stressful to make time for yourself. But once you have done it, you will feel re-energized and happier to go back to your life. You know that saying, “ If mamma ain’t happy nobody is happy.”
It sounds ridiculous but there is truth to this saying. I know when you are running on empty and you are not feeding your soul, it is very difficult to show up for your child.
It is amazing how far positive fuel will take you and increase your energy.
Getting started may feel like it is too big to tackle but you can get started with small steps toward creating your guilt-free me time.
When we want to create change we need to begin with meeting ourselves where we are at in our lives. Guilt-free me time might be a challenge, but you will get there.
The first step toward creating your guilt-free me time is to ask yourself what free time sounds doable. For example, I want to go away for one week for free time. It may feel too big at first.
This will be something you can work towards once you have practiced guilt free time in small chunks. So, let’s start out smaller with a day of guilt free me time.
Still too big? Then, make it smaller until you have found the amount of time that you can truly have for yourself without the guilt. This is a process, but once you experience it, you will begin to feel good about your free time more and more.
As you implement having your guilt free time, take a few moments to reflect how you felt when you began the time for yourself and how you felt when you came back from your guilt free time.
My hunch is that you will notice a shift in yourself that feels more energized and fulfilled than when you began.
If you like to keep a journal, this practice would be fun to reflect on how much you have released your guilt and resistance about having your free time.
Take a moment and give yourself a feeling word to begin your guilt free time. A word might be trapped, exhausted, or drained from your life.
When you return your word might be lighter and happier. These words will change depending on how your week or day has gone, but it gives you the data you need to see the progress you’re making.
This may be a non-negotiable as you move forward to keep yourself balanced on your autism mom journey. I live by this and although it has taken me several years to accomplish this, it’s worth it and I know without a doubt it will empower your soul.
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