In my counseling work I see a lot of people with chronic physical health issues and chronic mental health issues. We all think that chronic illness begins with the diagnosis from the doctor. I don’t think that is true. I know it is not true energetically. It takes a long time to get sick, and the chronic illness that is now official might have begun 20 or more years ago. This is why self-care and self-love are so important. The more love and acceptance we give to ourselves, the healthier we are in mind-body-emotions-spirit.
I am writing about this because I have a chronic problem that used to drive me crazy…made me feel very inadequate. I am blind in one eye, and I have very little depth perception. I also have some kind of neuromuscular glitch that kicks in now and then. It was hard for me to learn to read and I was very awkward physically as a child. Today I read constantly and very quickly. The part of the chronic problem that is still a problem shows up in my writing. I can’t proof read…at all. I read right over mistakes even though I might check my work a million times. I still can’t do repetitive activity smoothly for any length of time. Do I notice it? Yes. Is it OK with me? Yes. This is the only body I am going to have, and I love every cell in it!
When I was in high school I took a typing class and a short hand class so that I could take notes in college and type my own papers. I was a whiz at short hand. It came naturally to me. I was the fastest in the class…but I made a D in the class. I could not transcribe without making mistakes in my writing. I forgot periods. I left out letters in words. I made a D with a teacher who had no compassion at all for my vision problem. I still can’t write without the same kind of errors. Not a good thing, but I have to accept. My problem is not going to change. I depend on kind people to say “Hey Janet, you made a mistake.” I say thank you and am very grateful that they took the time to let me know my error. When I was teaching, English of all things, I used to give the students extra credit every time they found a mistake in my written work…hand outs…tests…while writing on the board…it worked for both of us.
Self acceptance of my issue began in graduate school. Under pressure my writing, spelling and the details of periods and commas become much worse. I was taking a philosophy class and while I loved it, every test was an essay test. We were taking a mid-term exam. The material was voluminous. The test had a long list of essay questions. We had a limited amount of time to answer the questions and we would all be sitting there as the buzzer went off. There was no time to proof read…the answers that went down went down quickly, and I had to live with the situation. I turned in the text booklet and prayed. When the test booklets came back, I’d earned an A+. However, the teacher took the time to mark in red every mistake that I made. The text booklet looked like it had a good case of the chicken pox. Each page was blotched with red ink. I was humiliated. Yet, the instructor gave me an A+. I had to stop and think…she recognized the problem and also recognized that I knew the material. She decided to teach me a lesson in self-worth. She did not punish me for a physical problem I had no control over. She corrected my errors and gave me credit for my knowledge. Wow! What a life lesson. What compassion. I am grateful for that professor still today. She single handedly sent me down the pathway of self-acceptance and self-love. She said very plainly, you are OK the way you are. A gift of a life-time.
I have a new client that has a chronic mental health problem. The client is a brilliant professional. Was diagnosed one year ago and has lived the whole year in trauma. My client feels that life was just wonderful until the diagnosis, but as I listen to the story, the current problem began in childhood. There was anxiety then. There was self-doubt then. There was a family that was harsh emotionally and critical. There was a parent who always had insensitive things to say. My client is now a working adult. The problems that were discussed yesterday began in childhood, but the “illness” was diagnosed last year! Now a new way of viewing self and life begins. We begin to travel down the road of self-acceptance and self-love. It won’t be an easy road: it never is. Yet, it is a road worth traveling. The road of self-acceptance is a road filled with so many beautiful gifts. So many joys. So much love! So much richness. So much…LIFE!