If you never had much confidence or belief in yourself before you became chronically ill you will have a very difficult time after you become ill. Very difficult indeed!
Speaking from personal experience, the struggle has been soul destroying at times.
Alternatively, battling these demons constantly can also make any victory feel monumental and that is what happened to me recently.
Having had the worst month physically, mentally and emotionally I felt completely destroyed and there has been very little comfort to find anywhere I searched. My self esteem and confidence hit another low and it was hard to think of reasons to go on.
For the chronically ill it is a constant battle to see yourself as anything resembling valuable and worthy, that is what the struggle is like for me anyway. During these times I avoid looking in mirrors, I don’t speak much and I try my best to complete any task with as much care and attention as I can in a bid to feel useful.
Tue emotional void feels limitless and I can’t help but remember every hurt, rejection and mistake over my lifetime. Why? I wish I knew. Perhaps like anyone else that may experience reactive depression from time to time, and especially during a series of hard battles and ‘life events’, I start picking the bones of my tortured soul in a self harming manner.
I try not to.
As I recall all the times that life and people have left me feeling sad, lonely and rejected I happened across a picture I had drawn some years ago. I sat and stared it and somehow I didn’t believe that I had drawn it and it felt like I had found from someone else’s studio. I liked it and in that moment I was quite surprised by the talent I had shown.
As I studied it more I started recalling that I somehow after all the things that have happened to me over the past decades I started to be in awe of myself for surviving them and for getting to my feet somehow.
Then, like a bolt of lightening, I felt a new idea explode inside me and it lit up my dark emotional sky. I have often considered myself very much the lesser person in a relationship and unworthy. I would constantly accept far less from my partners and would be grateful for the scraps they threw me in love, devotion, attention and loyalty.
I have often been reminded how lucky I was that my husband stuck around after I got sick and how he could have left me like so many partners had done in the past but now I thought that perhaps if my husband had or did decide to leave that he might lose something very special indeed.
I began to explore a thread of ideas which allowed me to identify some other things about me that I have seriously overlooked. For instance, how loyal, hard working, creative, inquisitive, funny, authentic, good hearted, romantic, compassionate, empathic, feeling, artistic, flexible I was. How I have done as m uh as I could for my partners and also provided them with a good income and strong problem solving and willing to negotiate the rough roads we encountered right along side them.
If my husband left then he stood to lose something unique indeed and if he did leave, like others before him, I believe that they would suffer a real loss greater than I would endure because they would have lost someone that didn’t give up during hard times and knew how to treasure the important things in life.
I was once again reminded that we can’t make people choose us, we can’t make people appreciate us for all that we are and all we try to be and do. We can’t make them treasure us and work just as hard to make us feel loved as we do for them.
It is always possible that some may prove unworthy of us, abandon us, not appreciate us, forget us, waste our time and not ever see us for all we are and all we do. But it is worse we we do that to ourselves. It is much much worse.
I may always need to work harder than most people to love, even like, myself but it feels sometimes that self esteem and confidence is like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to grow stronger and provide strength to the rest of the body.
It is important that I fight to set boundaries and give voice to my needs and expectations of my partner. I am allowed to want these needs met and to accept less would be the ultimate betrayal and I am allowed to struggle with self esteem and low confidence whilst I am doing what I can to improve it.
Very few people out there understand the pure torture illness puts us through emotionally and how it eats away at your self belief and self worth everyday like a cancer. Perhaps Autoimmunes need a little extra TLC from our loved ones and friends, but if they truly love us and care about us this should not be a inappropriate thing to ask.
I have to believe that anyone, and I mean anyone, who deserts us for struggling because of these chronic illnesses then they are doing the right thing by removing themselves from our lives.
I don’t remind people to show compassion or scold them for avoiding having to show love and compassion to me, I am simply beginning to recognise it as a failing in them and not me and I want to become the type of person who can begin to be able to write love letters to myself when I need it.