I'm Not Broken Because of My Illness
Self-love is a hard thing to achieve, especially when you have a health condition that drastically changes not only how you see yourself, but how others view you as well. I know how hard it is to love yourself fully when you are constantly in a fight with your own body. Some days it might even seem impossible. I know how it feels to be viewed as “broken” and I know how it feels to believe it. Here is your daily reminder that your body may be “broken” but you are not.
When someone sees you as broken, there is a very specific look in their eyes. That look is pity. In case it is not common sense, sick people do not want your pity — we want to be seen with compassion. There is a big difference. It’s hard enough to see yourself in a positive way when your body is failing you let alone when people see you as broken.
Society tends to view the disabled community a certain way — as helpless or as burdens. And it is easy to feel that way yourself at times. Half of the public buildings out there aren’t even accessible (even though they claim to be). There have been so many times I’ve needed to use a public restroom but couldn’t because there wasn’t one that fit my wheelchair (including so-called “disabled stalls”). There have been times I couldn’t cross the street at a crosswalk because they didn’t have a low curb. There have been countless times I couldn’t enter a public place like the bank or Starbucks because they didn’t have a ramp at the entrance. Each time I’ve encountered a situation like that, I felt like I didn’t matter. I felt less than human. I felt broken, when in reality it is society that is broken.
There have been dozens of times when people assume I can only date someone who is chronically ill as well. Friends try to set me up on dates with someone who uses a wheelchair because we “have so much in common,” when in reality the only thing we have in common is that we are disabled. What that says to me is that a healthy person can’t love me because I’m sick — because I’m “broken.”
Of course truly loving myself seems impossible at times, especially when my body doesn’t love me back, but overall, I’ve learned to love myself. I start each day off by reminding myself that I am not broken. I’ve said it so many times now that I’ve come to believe it. And I thank my body for the things it can do, even when it’s a struggle.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you are not broken. It is how society views and treats the disabled community that is broken.
This story originally appeared on A Life Full of Grace and Mito.