As I’ve touched on it previously, you’ll be aware that my health isn’t the best. I don’t want to get into the long and complicated diagnoses and details – it’s not anyone else’s business – so let’s just say my body won’t do what most others do without effort. My mind, too, is not the same either. It would be a great big lie to say it’s been easy adapting to my “new normal” (gods that’s a saying we’re all rabbiting at the moment!) but after almost 6 years, I’m finally learning to listen. My body and brain let me know what they need and when – but for the longest time I’ve ignored them both.
Acceptance isn’t Surrender.
So much of the rhetoric in the disability and chronic illness community is – in my opinion – quite harmful. We’re “warriors“, we “battle ourselves“, we “keep fighting” and so on. I find it unhelpful and upsetting; I can’t fight my own body or mind, surely that’s going to be more damaging? I’m a pacifist anyways, so why would I go to war with my own flesh?
Letting go of this idea of being “a warrior” was a huge breakthrough moment for me. I’d got it all twisted up in my head – accepting my condition meant I was giving in to it, I was abandoning my life and allowing it to beat me. What a load of bollocks! Releasing myself from this battle mindset has brought me far more progress than I ever made before!
Everyone these days talks about self love, self care and so on; how can you love and care for something if you ignore it, fight it and punish it? Having a bath or a face mask isn’t going to make any difference at all when you’re being so destructive to yourself.
Calling a Ceasefire.
Accepting one’s limitations – disabled or not – is like calling a ceasefire within yourself. It’s the first step towards having real peace, a time for you to take stock of what’s going on in side of you and start figuring out a way forward.
I’ve been learning to accept what my body can and cannot do and I’m trying to avoid becoming frustrated and upset when things don’t go the way I want. Don’t get me wrong, I still get really pissed of and angry with myself! But I’m happy to say those bursts of irritation are fewer and farther apart. It’s a daily decision and sometimes I make the wrong one.
For example; I love being outside, surrounded by nature and away from human noise and mess. It’s so good for me, it feels like food for my soul! I’m really lucky to live in a place where the wild is a short walk away….. although sometimes that short walk is unachievable. I would get so upset and frustrated that I couldn’t make that journey to the end of the street; I would rage at myself, then become really upset, then that would make me feel worse because of all the energy those feelings used up, meaning it would be even longer until I could get out! Now, I make the most of what I can do; I go sit in my backyard and look up at the trees on the hill near my home. I listen to the birds and watch the wind blowing the leaves. If the noise of the neighbours bugs me, I pop my headphones on and listen to an audiobook or podcast or even nature recordings. It’s not perfect, but it still does wonders for my mental wellbeing and ultimately means I can get to the meadow much quicker!
I’m not going to bang on the “think positive” drum! While having a positive outlook can help generally with your emotional and physical wellbeing, it’s not a cure all. It can actually make things worse in the long run.
Refusing to acknowledge when life is hard – when you’re in pain and struggling – is harmful. Brainwashing yourself into believing “it’s all fine, everything is awesome” when your world is falling apart is unbelievably unhealthy. Looking on the bright side won’t cure you of chronic illness.
One of the most insulting things I’ve ever been told is “Maybe if you tried to think more positively, you’d get well again”. This is TOXIC POSITIVITY and it’s a load of bullshit. That’s not what I’m talking about.
Real acceptance means understanding that sometimes it’s shit. Sometimes life sucks, sometimes the pain is too much; sitting with those feelings of sadness and anger, processing them and acknowledging them is healthy and much better for you than pushing them down or locking them away!
Every journey starts with one step.
Maybe you’re reading this and a light bulb has pinged on in your head; “That’s me, I’m waging war on myself and it’s making me worse!” But you don’t know how to stop, you’ve been told to fight hard never give up. That accepting is weakness, that all you need is to keep going and have faith and never quit and one day you’ll have the life back you had before…
I see you, I get it, I was you.
The first step is the hardest. I know it’s a cliche but it really is; actually looking at yourself and acknowledging all the pain and pressure you’re putting yourself through isn’t a pleasant experience. Letting go of that ingrained warrior mindset is a daily choice; choosing to listen to what your mind and body is trying to tell you feels like starting to learn a new language from scratch! It’s difficult, and you will make mistakes.
I get it wrong every day. Whenever a new symptom pops up I lose my shit all over again! It takes me ages to accept another thing going wrong with me, so please don’t think I’ve got this on lock. I really haven’t!
Making mistakes, fucking it up, failing…. it’s how you learn. It’s okay to get it wrong. It’s not okay to give up trying to get it right! For me, being more tolerant and accepting of myself is very much two steps forward and one back; it’s a long bumpy road filled with potholes and I don’t have a map, I’m trying to walk in flip flops and I forgot my water bottle! It’s learning to do something I’ve never been shown how to do. It’s unlearning all the stuff that’s been drummed into me ever since I can remember.
It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.
I hope that sharing this has encouraged someone – even just one person – to begin to make peace with themselves. That would be a successful blog post in my book! If you’re that person, please do let me know. I’d love to keep in touch and see how you go on!
Take care Piglets, you’re all loved so very much xx