Not that long ago my thoughts, emotions, and daily functions revolved around being sick. It was how I identified myself. I was sick, and living in a state of “I can’t.” Everything seemed like an enormous task and too big of a risk to take. I was certain that anything outside the safety of the small little zone of comfort I had made for myself would send me spiraling into the depths of my illness. I was sick. That was pretty much the entirety of who I was and the lens with which I viewed the entire world.
But I was never happy or content with that state of being. Who is? Who could possibly be? Even when we reach a state of acceptance with our illness, it does not mean that we are content living with it. I was certainly not content – a shell of my former self, and a shell of the person I could still feel inside of me. My true essence is not that of a sick person. My true essence is beauty, strength, light, love, and possibility! And I could feel each element deep inside me just waiting to burst through. Something had to change!
So I changed the only thing I had any amount of control over – ME!
Actually I did not change me so much are get reconnected with ME – the me deep inside that I had lost touch with over my many years of illness. She hadn’t gone away, she simply had been neglected. And the first thing I did to reconnect with her was to forgive myself for neglecting her, for neglecting ME. I had been doing my very best to cope with my illness given the skills and understanding I had available to me at the time. As we all know there is no manual on how to live with chronic illness. It is a complete process of trial and error. We are the pioneers of fibromyalgia. So where to begin?
I began with the simple belief that my life had much more meaning than my illness. I began to listen to my intuition, which told me things could be different, things could change. I allowed my true essence to become louder than my doubt, worry, frustration, and fear. I gave more authority to ME and less to my illness. I opened my heart to the truth of ME and began to allow hope and joy back into my life. I worked hard at not letting the once loud voice of my illness, which at times drowned out any other sounds, to again become the only thing I could hear.
And I did more work. Slowly, yet regularly I began practices and behaviors that reinforced ME and turned down the volume of my illness. I completely changed the way I ate – no more gluten, and a lot more veggies, nothing processed, everything fresh. I began a regular yoga practice, starting once or twice a month in the extra gentle, senior class, and slowly progressing over two years time until here I am today, teaching gentle yoga and practicing regularly. I began reading books, magazines, and web content that enhanced and reinforced my new focus. I found a local spiritual community where I feel love, hope, and an even greater connection to the essence of ME. I could go on and on, describing the ways I have worked over the past two years to reconnect with me, and disconnect with my illness, but I think you get the point.
I am not symptom free. I likely never will be. But what I am is hopeful, and happy, and whole. I am whole despite what is missing. I am whole despite what is different. I am whole despite my symptoms. I am whole because I am again living from my true essence, not from my illness.
We are all so unique and valuable. I believe we feel pain so intensely because we feel everything intensely. It is exactly our capacity to love that gives us this incredible capacity to hurt. We can chose to focus on the love, and the essence of our being, rather than on the pain and symptoms of our illness. It is not living in denial. It is not mind over matter. It is essence over illness. You are so much more than your illness! And you illness can never diminish or extinguish your true essence. You were born with it, and you will die with. Now is the perfect time to find your own way to tune into it and let it once again become what you live from. Your formula will be your own. You know what makes your heart sing. You know what makes you feel like a complete and whole being. You know what makes you YOU! Find a way to spend more time there. You are love, you are light, you are beauty, and you are hope! The world needs more of YOU!
(self reflection photo courtesy of www.jennypalu.com/selfreflection.html)