As a result of a serious eye injury that my son suffered on New Year’s Day 2010, I have experienced a variety of phases and emotions over the past year. I was sad, angry, relieved, and felt guilty.
Why guilt, you ask? Why would I feel guilt when my son has become blind in his eye and now wears a prosthetic shell?
I termed my feelings as Survivor Guilt. I was so pleased with how my son’s life will turn out. He will do anything he wants, no restrictions. Do you know how many children we saw on New Year’s Day 2010 in the University of Michigan hospital that might not ever get to live a normal childhood let alone… leave the hospital? As crushed as I was about what happened to my son, I felt equally blessed that his situation was so MINOR.
I beat my feelings of sadness then I beat my feelings of anger at the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. It was about mid-year when the survivor’s guilt really began to kick in. I thought I was feeling guilty that our lives had come out nearly unchanged.
In December, I wrote a post when I was feeling very overwhelmed with the world, my binges, and my survivor’s guilt. I was doing everything I could to pay back the present that my son… that I was given but it just didn’t seem to help me with the guilt. As good as it is to help others and give what I could it was not helping me to come to terms with my guilt. I spent the year eating for emotional comfort, eating to relieve my anger and as a crutch toward my guilt. It didn’t seem like I could go more than 5 days without binging on something. As positively as I started December, I found myself deep in depression by the middle of the month. It was as if it got worse the closer we came to the one year anniversary of the accident.
Just before Christmas, I struggled on a long run. It was hard to run and I just wasn’t feeling it. I took walking breaks as a compromise. As with most runs, my mind sifted back and forth through a variety of topics. The most popular topic was my survivor’s guilt and what could do to pay it back to the universe. I thought about how lucky we were that our son wasn’t one of those kids who were so sick they had to be kept inside of sterile rooms, even had sterile tents around their beds. We were lucky to have a child with a healthy body.
That was it. A healthy body. I was feeling guilty because I have a fully functional, capable and healthy body and yet I was not appreciating it the way that I should. I wasn’t exercising right, eating junk food, pouring in the sugar and over indulging on alcohol. Not only is my kid lucky, I’M lucky. I’m lucky to have a body that is strong, disease free, functional, and capable of doing more than I’ve imagined.
What I realized in that struggling run is that in order for me to pay it back to the universe I have to care for and appreciate the gift I was given, my own healthy body. I have no diseases and I’m damn lucky I don’t.