There are many difficult times in the life of a Chronically ill person where we can doubt ourselves and doubt our worth. It usually starts when we begin comparing ourselves to our former selves or to others. It is a dangerous mind trap that we try desperately to avoid but can fall into every now and again. I still do it, despite knowing that I shouldn’t.
I wont pretend to be an expert on Autoimmune diseases and their therapies because we are all so different in our experiences and results, so I deliberately stay away from discussing meds and comparing abilities or therapies as this doesn’t seem a productive path for me. Instead, I try and write openly and authentically about some of the many other challenges involved with living with illnesses; at least from my perspective anyway. It is my hope that some of these experiences will resonate with others.
I can empathize with the many of the struggles out there and relate to a lot of the emotions and pains that we all must learn to live with. Somehow.
We all must try and create a new life and find new meaning, whilst all the time sharing our lives with these demanding diseases and symptoms. Sometimes I am truly amazed at how we do it!!!
I remember that at first I would try to look for validation from doctors and ‘others‘ to help myself feel valuable and worthy. This can be potentially disastrous! Giving anyone else power over how you see yourself and how you value your life is extremely dangerous, which I have had to learn the very hard and painful way.
Rebuilding self esteem and self worth can be a very difficult process, especially since many of us are having to relearn it in our thirties and forties (and later), and after a lifetime of living with a much healthier body. But it must be done.
I remember reading the following quote;
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
I had to face the fact that I had to regain some control over how I saw myself and who I let influence this …
Before, when we were a healthier version of ourselves, we got our cues from our job, our relationships, our social interactions, our friendships and what we could do with our physical selves. It is little wonder then how we can struggle once the job, the relationships, the social interactions and the friendships have been removed!
It could be argued that it is only when we have really been stripped down and laid bare that we really find out who we are and how much we like that person! And how much we value life in general.
When there is nowhere to run and nothing to hide behind (jobs, friends, family etc) do you really start doing the hard work of discovering who you are and accepting yourself. But it does not come quickly or easily for some. It didn’t for me anyway.
In the quiet and solitude of my home and my bed I had to discover who I really was and how I respond to some of the hardest battles in life. I had many years to reflect and contemplate, as well as having to come to terms with it all.
Looking back on many of my posts I may sound like I have answered all my questions, but I assure you I haven’t. I may give the impression that I have made peace with the pain and the limitations my illnesses have handed me, but let me assure you I that I most certainly have not!
I doubt I will ever like the hand that has been dealt, but I have put a lot more effort into learning how to like me and learning how to accept the hand that has been dealt, rather than liking the hand that has been dealt.
I have also reached a point where I can honestly say that I am happy for all those that have left my life and decided that they don’t really want to be part of my life’s journey anymore because nobody needs people in their lives who don’t really want to be there. To that end, their departure has made room for those who DO want to be here and find value and peace in knowing who I am now and what I go through.
When I started blogging I wasn’t prepared for some of the reactions and feedback that I would encounter because I had reasoned that if my intention was to be helpful then no one would find fault in what I wrote or did… I was wrong! Again!
But once again this has served to reinforce the message that, sick or well, we are never going to please everyone and we are not meant to be everyone’s cup of tea. However this should not stop us from being our authentic self and liking who we are, despite all of our faults and limitations. Being our own biggest fan!
We are valuable. We are worthy. We are unique and we CAN be perfectly unwell and still feel proud of who we are.
I may not always feel this way, but I am much closer with each new day…