Internal Divide

I recently recovered from strep throat and discovered this draft that I had written while sick:

I woke up this morning, throat swollen, difficult time breathing, cold and hot at the same time and overall feeling awful. I took the day off from work, emailed the professor I am a research assistant to and laid in bed trying not to feel inadequate. My ‘tough girl, I can take care of myself’ attitude was not present. I felt myself sink into a sad, helpless mode as I was unable to communicate. My throat hurt and ached; when I tried to speak, I croaked and resorted to a sad whisper. Normally, I’m much too prideful to ask for help. I would push through or just not do my tasks at all, pushing them off to the next day.

Today, I accepted my beautiful roommate’s offer to drive me to the doctors, only a half a block away. I asked for prayers. I needed help getting my water bottle. I had to drive to the store to pick up prescriptions when I discovered I may have strep throat and accepted my roommate’s offer to help me shop for the things necessary for taking care of myself. I accepted the offer of chicken soup and felt embarrassed needing so much help. But underneath the shame, guilt and embarrassment I felt, I also felt a small twinge of love from my roommates. One went out of her way to drive me to the doctor, three different stores and offered to cook. The others are keeping me company and helping me with small tasks here and there. It was strange accepting help but also so relieving. I thought I could’ve done everything myself but I would’ve been so miserable. Accepting help is okay. I didn’t have to carry this weight alone.

As this thought begins to creep in, another begins to terrorize.

“You are pathetic.”

The three words that ring in my head constantly. I crouch to the ground, coughing, gasping for breath as my throat swells further and cover my ears. It’s not true. I’m not pathetic, I’m not pathetic, I’m not pathetic.

“But you are though.”

No I’m not, no I’m not. I need help cause I’m sick.

“You could be tougher.”

No. I can’t.

“Yes, you can. It’s just a sore throat. You are pathetic.”

The internal battle that never truly ends. The phrase keeps ringing in my head.

“You let your research team down. You let your employer down. Your roommates don’t want to help. They think you’re a burden because that’s what you are: a burden. You need too much. Can’t you just get over your sickness? Toughen up, get it together and get over it.”

But I can’t. I’m weighed down. I’m sick yet my mind torments me with anxious thoughts of being a burden. All I could see were the disappointed faces of people I was letting down, the rolling of eyes as I ask for help with one more thing and the whispers of betrayal from people who said they would help. Everywhere I looked, I saw someone looking down at me. I desperately whisper to myself, “Somebody tell me they love me and I’m not a burden. Please.”

“That’s never going to happen. If it does, it’s a lie.”

That’s not true. I am loved.

“No, you’re not.”

When did I become so mean to myself? I hate those thoughts.

“But I’m you.”

Does that mean I hate myself?

“What do you think?”

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