I used to think I was "good" because my body was "strong" and I didn't often get sick; I was quite physically capable and proud of my dedication to physical activity, meditation and being diligent about what I put on and in my body. My whole sense of self changed when I developed chronic symptoms that prevented me from living the way I wanted to live. I struggled for years with thoughts about not being "good enough" because of the presence of my symptoms.
In the first few years of my chronic illness, I had months on end of being unable to move my body with out the world spinning; I snapped at my family for being too loud for my hypersensitive nervous system; I laid in a dark bedroom for hours praying that my headache would go away; I felt depressed and heavy, unable to muster excitement for anything. I have felt helpless, sorry for myself, misunderstood, burdened and the deep unfairness of being suddenly stricken with an onslaught of unexplained symptoms. I didn't think anyone could understand, and underneath I felt like it was all my fault.
My chronic symptoms have not/cannot be labeled as a single diagnosis, despite years of searching. And I have slowly dismantled the belief that if I could just be "good enough", if I was "strong enough" to do things right, I wouldn't be sick anymore. I tried so hard.
Over the past 8 years, I have used my symptoms to punish and control, to beat myself down. If I was stronger, better, smarter, more dedicated, had more money, didn't eat this or that, wasn't so angry, exercised more, lived somewhere quieter . . . and on and on.
I've was telling myself that if I had these things, which I deemed a "better" way, my chronic symptoms would go away and never return. Never return. I wanted so badly to solve the problem.
If I was better, I would feel better.
Intellectually I knew this wasn't true. But it took me years to trust that this was all ok, my symptoms were showing me my strength. I actually needed that quieter neighborhood. I actually needed a different orientation to exercise, to being in my body. I didn't need more money, but I did need to find a new way of being in and feeling my anger.
When the bottom is visible, all that's left is to trust. I reached a point that I could no longer keep searching for the answer that would solve my chronic symptoms. I guess I got to a place where I knew intellectually that I wouldn't find an answer. I knew for probably at least a year before it began to sink into my body. Before I started to really listen to the pace, the messages, the wisdom that was on the other side of trying to control everything.
I have learned over these 8 years what it actually means to nourish this body and that THAT is the thing that actually makes me feel good, not the intellectual idea of being good. Some of the things I have learned: stay home when I want to; I have cycles of more and less energy; I enjoy time alone; I need to give my children more time in the dirt, not more after school activities; most foods work for me in moderation, except garlic; wild sent is lovely, but I need to balance it with fresh air; the feel of a stone in my hand brings me back to my core; music is a life-raft.
I am now resting in the knowing that my goodness isn't dependent on anything that I do or don't do. It's about staying true to the ways of living that support a satisfying experience of life. I feel good when I feel, trust and listen.