How do you arrive at unconditional love when you feel broken, undeserving, or hate parts of yourself or your body? How do you break the cycle of self-sabotage or hatred, or avoidance? How do you take off the mask, embrace who you are, and be truly vulnerable?
My story of endometriosis begins at age 14, and so do the negative thoughts about myself.
As a teenager when I was supposed to be embracing the changes within myself, I was doing the exact opposite. I remember feeling frustrated, and my verbiage sounding like — Why do I have to experience this crap? The boys don’t have this crap. Because I have female parts I am in pain. Because my uterus is broken, I bleed heavily for days on end, forcing me to stay close to a restroom. Because I am a woman my body hurts constantly. I hate that my body hurts. When is my body going to stop hurting? I want a new body, this ones sucks. Maybe I should just get rid of my uterus, it’s not good for anything anyway.
These thoughts, and many variations of them continued for years. I never considered it to be bad that I had these types of thoughts. I was frustrated. I had chronic pain to deal with. And my way to deal with it was to suck it up and get on with life. Put on a pretty, happy face. Get to school, college, go to work. I subconsciously hid behind a mask of perfection. I never wanted to be the sick girl. I never wanted to be the broken girl. Running from this unwanted identity ruled my life. I did everything I could to (again, subconsciously) prove to myself and everyone else (whether they knew about my disease or not) that I was good enough. I was a HS athlete. A state swimmer. State track. Played softball, golf, was on the dance team. Graduated in the top 10% of my class. Went to college and won a full ride scholarship. Studied in London. Had a job waiting for me at Graduation. The whole 9 yards. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Some of it I am really proud of, some of it I could really care less. I was a chronic overachiever, because I subconsciously believed a sick person doesn’t get out of bed. So, if I can accomplish all this, I won’t be the sick girl. I did it to cover up the pain. I did it to run from the pain.
I had compartmentalized my health from the rest of my life. I thought I could throw some pills at it, go on over-achieving, and everything would be fine. But it wasn’t. I was a rat in a wheel, doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.
At 27 years old the disease caught up with me. The disease and all the layers of mental and emotional pain that had collected for years said, no, this time you get to deal with everything you’ve been avoiding. You don’t get to run or hide any longer. I had to face the emotional gremlins that had slowly turned their campsite into an empire and are now planning a hostile takeover.
For me, loving myself meant acknowledging what the disease had done to me and taken from me. It also meant finally admitting that I was sick and that endometriosis had broken my spirit. I hated all of it. I was ashamed of all of it. Endometriosis summed up all the undesirable parts of myself that I never wanted. I resisted acknowledgment. It was hard, I hated it. And if you think acknowledgement is hard, believe me, acceptance and loving myself through it was even harder.
Accepting the gift and lessons within endometriosis meant accepting myself in the current moment. I accepted that my spirit was broken and traumatized. Loving and accepting myself meant accepting that what endometriosis put me through wasn’t pretty. I accepted that I was not in a good place, and that it was okay. I am not a bad person. I’ve just been through some shitty times. I repeatedly told myself – My current situation is not my forever situation. I took baby steps, and made tiny changes for the better. Day after day I chose to do what was going to be best for my body and my health for the long run.
The process of arriving at a place of unconditional self-love took time, and is ever evolving. Layer after layer of discoveries about myself, about my disease, and about my emotions needed time for acceptance and love. I drowned myself in positive affirmations. I did my best to be cognizant of my verbiage and frustrations. I got curious about my reactions to stress. I did my best to incorporate a practice of gratitude. There were a lot of tears. A lot of anger and hate to let go of. A lot of therapy visits. And a lot of lessons learned.
I am now in a place of acceptance and ease. It took practice to build these mental and emotional muscles, and it is absolutely worth the work.
Tomorrow I am speaking to a women’s group about Unconditional Self-Love, and have put together my favorite 30 LOVE Affirmations…and I am giving them away for FREE!!!
I’M SO EXCITED!! For the next month, start every day off on a positive note, and a mantra to live by for the day.