Over the years, I have struggled with my relationship with my body. I resented my body for the pain that it caused me. I wished so badly that I could have a new one, or at least that I could just leave it at home, so I could go about my day without dealing with pain. This left me feeling detached from my own body.
I have come to the realization that this body is my home, and I only get one. It is important for me to find ways to be happy in my own skin, and show myself the love and compassion I deserve.
Self-compassion is one of the most important parts of loving my body. I have learned to forgive myself when I am too tired to get everything done, when I have to bail on a social event, or any other time my body has limits. I have learned to be patient with myself if it takes me longer to get things done than others might. If I can forgive myself, it doesn’t matter if others do. I have even forgiven myself for the times I have spent hating my body for the pain that it caused me, and judging myself for things that were out of my control. I understand exactly how I ended up feeling that way, and all I can do now is try my best to approach myself with care moving forward. It is crucial not to beat myself up for having a hard time. I know that my feelings are valid, and come from real experiences. Instead of being hard on myself for struggling, I try to approach my feelings with curiosity and compassion.
While my body does cause me pain, it also allows me to walk, run and hike to my favourite places. It allows me to hug those whom I love. My body feels all sorts of good feelings too, like the comfort of my bed after a long day, or the feeling of a good massage. There are so many things that I could not do without the body that I have. Approaching life with gratitude does not take away my pain or suffering, but it puts it into a context where I feel more abundant, and thankful for each little thing. In fact, something that I love about myself and the way my pain has shaped me is that I have learned to find beauty in the simple pleasures. Even in a day filled with pain, I can still find enjoyment and meaning.
(For more on gratitude and chronic illness, check out this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/chronically-me/201811/cultivating-gratitude-while-living-chronic-illness )
Building self-love has also been about the process of learning how to recognize and respond to my needs. This process has taught me so much about myself. I know that I am often more sensitive to the basics of self-care, like eating well, having healthy sleep, staying hydrated, and so on. I used to feel frustrated that I needed to take so much extra care. I felt fragile, and jealous of other kids who didn’t have to worry about these things in the way I did. But now I see it as a gift, that I have learned healthy self-care habits at a young age. Each little act of self-care is truly an act of love.
It is also helpful for me to reflect on the ways that I have grown from my pain. I still would erase my pain in a heartbeat, if I could. But it is nice to think about how I have become a stronger and more resilient person because of it.
Ultimately, I want anyone reading this to know that if you are having these types of feelings of detachment, or any other similar feelings, you are not alone. I hope that sharing some of my story of self-love can help inspire you to find happiness in your own skin too.
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