Nothing thrusts you into your own arms the way chronic illness does. It reminds us of our greatest commitment—the one to ourselves. There’s nothing as permanent as our relationship with the person who looks back at us in the mirror. No companionship that epitomizes “’til death do us part” more literally. And in some beliefs, being stuck with ourselves transcends time and space.
For many of us, we are our own worst enemy. No one has the power to cut us as deeply as we cut ourselves. I don’t remember the exact moment my own self-loathing began. My memories are fractured pictures woven into a quilt of ups and downs. I remember bits and pieces, experiences and perceptions that have shaped my being. I know that I was never one to dream about the future. Was this naive obliviousness or a subconscious hope that the future would not come? I’m not entirely sure.
I do know I spent a lot of time sabotaging myself. Trying to extinguish any goodness before it could be taken from me. Being in control was an addiction, the only thing that mattered, even if it meant being in control of my own destruction. Consequences be damned, they were just part of the future that I didn’t see for myself.
After fighting my own body for so long, it began to fight back. I lost control of the one thing I was so thoroughly wrapped up in. The poison I had been feeding myself for so long had seeped into my bloodstream, pumping through my body like a thousand burning needles. After so many years of drugging myself with hatred, it consumed me. There is no rage like a body neglected and scorned.
How ironic to find love for myself in the midst of overflowing hatred, poured by my own hand. After plunging to the depths of rock bottom, willfully, I dared to ask how it was I had gotten there. “Why is this happening to me?” I would think as invisible drills penetrated my head, blinding me to years of self-inflicted torture. “Why is my body giving up on me?” As if I even gave it an ounce of love or kindness… like I didn’t spend my youth actively raging against it.
Two decades of stones I had thrown at myself had come crashing down onto me and I dared to ask where they came from. What does one do when they find themselves stuck in a web of their own weaving? The only thing I could do: surrender to self-love. I dug deeper into the depths of myself and it was there that I was planted. I realized how resilient and strong I was, like a dandelion growing through the cracks of the concrete, and I, too, began to grow through the stones that weighed me down. I peeled back layers and layers of false perception I had been swept up in and discovered my true self at my core. Someone worthy of goodness.
I realized I would need to fight for wellness as adamantly as I fought for destruction. How could I expect to reverse countless years of self-sabotage overnight? I would need to be as dedicated to my rising as I was to my downfall, and that was not easy. I had found comfort in the toxic shelter of despair. It was all I knew. To give myself compassion, understanding and love was like translating an ancient text whose language has been lost for centuries. What did I need to heal and grow? I had no clue. But there must have been a point so long ago where I had no idea how to hate the person looking back at me in the mirror. A time when my body and soul were connected as one before self-loathing seeped in to divide and conquer.
I suppose in order to begin, I simply had to start. Why fear the discomfort of change when I was already uncomfortable in my own skin? I could stay stagnant and allow myself to be crushed under those stones I had thrown at myself, or I could force my way through them, back towards the light of hope. Hope is the sun that shines down upon me, creeping in through the cracks to help me grow. I can taste the desire of a better life, the water that replenishes the well within me, which dried up long ago. My progress is slow, painful, and often times I feel as though I’m swimming against the current, doomed to drown beneath the ocean of my own creation. But I’ve been thrown a lifejacket by those who have painstakingly built their boat in a sea of their own despair and are sailing towards their better life. They’ve lent me their binoculars so that I may catch a glimpse of higher ground ahead; land I can reach if I manage to keep my head above water. I hope I can share that with others who are sinking below the surface.
We have a choice when we are buried, whether we put ourselves there or not. Be crushed or grow through it. The relationship we share with ourselves is of our own making, able to be changed at any time. Be dedicated to your own wellbeing, in sickness and in health. You deserve your love. You are worthy of a better life.
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