My approach to healing had been focused on control.
Control all the external factors, fix the things that were wrong with my body, and I will feel well. It seems like this is the immediate approach for many of us upon receiving a diagnosis. Immediately run towards the practitioner, the supplements, the diet, the lifestyle changes even, that are supposed to make us better. After feeling so hopeless and lost, all I wanted was to take back control of my life. Following these protocols gave me that sense of control. All of these protocols helped me get better, there’s no denying that. My doctors are beyond wonderful for the way they supported me in my healing. But that’s the thing, I couldn’t rely on my doctors to heal me. They provided me with knowledge and tools to help me get well, but it was up to me to put in the work. My health improved drastically, but eventually my progress plateaued and that’s when I took a different approach to healing. I still continued with all my protocols, but I started working with a different kind of practitioner, one who was going to help me focus on the emotional roots of illness. I didn’t feel ready, but I jumped into a heart-centered approach to healing and it was the best thing I could have done.
Despite feeling better in terms of my symptoms, I still felt an emptiness I couldn’t shake.
I felt like a piece of me was missing. These illnesses had slowly chipped away at my identity. The drive, curiosity, and adventure I once possessed were replaced with exhaustion, anxiety, and anguish. I could barely recognize myself or my life anymore and it was terrifying. Truthfully though, I was sick long before I ever got an autoimmune diagnosis. I wasn’t mentally or emotionally well. I had walked around with a sense of self doubt for as long as I could remember. I was always focused on every flaw, every mistake. I could never just be with myself. There were parts of myself that I didn’t like, that I was ashamed of. So I tucked those parts away to ensure no one would know they existed. The part that struggled with disordered eating, the part that struggled with depression. I felt the need to fit everyone else’s expectations of me. I was positive, happy, nice, cute by everyone else’s standards. I’m a people pleaser by nature; I couldn’t deviate from those expectations for fear of letting someone down. So that is exactly how I carried on with my life. I never realized that I was living from a place of fear.
In a strange way, I have autoimmune disease to thank for the life I have now. The physical illness, the way my body seemed to completely fail me, was an awakening in disguise. If not for getting so physically ill, I’m not sure if I ever would have changed my way of thinking, my way of living.
So what did I do? How did I move past this block in my healing? I chose to let go.
I use the word chose, purposefully here. I didn’t just magically let go of all the trauma, the hurt, the toxic thoughts, the disordered eating. I am still choosing every day to let go of these things. I accept that they are part of me. These are the dark parts of myself that I tucked away, but now I choose to send some love to those places. I show myself the grace and compassion that I would show anyone else. I opened up to the people I love. I let them see the whole me, not just the perfect parts that I carefully presented to them.
More specifically, I identified the things that I wanted more of, and those that were holding me back. The number one thing holding me back was a lack of self love. I’ve always struggled with low self- esteem. That might be surprising for someone who knows me (I do a great job of holding it together).
To really heal I had to release some of those fears, I had to relinquish some of that control. I needed to trust. I’m learning to speak my truth and shine a light on all those parts of myself that I used to be afraid of. I choose to let go, and to forgive myself. I choose to embrace the parts of myself that I used to wish away. I still have bad days, days of low self-esteem, days of self-doubt, but instead of fueling those thoughts, I do my best to acknowledge them and move on. I love myself too much for that. I have too much self-respect for that.
In retrospect, I wish I had been kinder to myself through it all. Only when I reached this part of my healing did I start to recognize how my own toxic thoughts were hurting me. It is difficult to acknowledge how my own behavior was hindering my healing, but it is the only way back to being whole. I finally feel at home in my soul again. It’s been a long time.
Healing from autoimmune disease looks different for everyone.
I still embrace a nutrient dense diet, I still take supplements to support my body, but ultimately I prioritize cultivating a good relationship with myself. I have shifted my focus from suppressing these diseases to loving myself despite them.