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I Don't Care If You Judge My Unfiltered Life With Chronic Illness

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As a mom of a 17-, 19- and 21-year-old, I encourage my girls to go unfiltered. It is hard to look at yourself, and yet it is easy to look at others and form opinions… maybe even pass some judgment.

I have been thinking about social media and the world we create through a perfectly positioned camera lens. We change filters and alter images to create the best image.   When did miniature golf become an opportunity to do you hair and wear your best summer outfits? I am fascinated by the mini golfers who hold up the line trying to get the best photo doing what I consider the most boring activity in this world.

I recently sat with a friend as we discussed how online dating and social media has transformed our relationships and interactions. I encourage you to take a peek at Tinder, OKCupid, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Linkedin and the multiple other social media platforms. The world has changed since *69 was a big deal. (I am not dismissing the importance of *69 because it was a big deal. I could no longer call the boys I like and hang up… it was an upsetting invention for an awkward teenager.) We are always changing because of this fast-paced new world. We are judged so quickly, and yet we are more than our best selfie or profile picture. It is impossible to hide or be anonymous.

I could hide my disease and present the world with an image, but I chose a different route. My choice did ruffle some feathers. Not everyone in my family understood my unfiltered life and others were shocked to find out I was even sick. My girls provide endless support, and we have all changed on our journey. I would always remind my girls to not focus on the superficial and keep in my mind we are works in progress.

Before my diagnosis I had my least favorite middle school picture up on the fridge. It was a family reminder that we are a collection of our worst times. I am still the same awkward girl who was not allowed to get an upper lip wax. I don’t want to hide that person, and now I feel the same way with my disease.

Middle school photo

I am unfiltered, and I don’t want your pity, but you can judge me. I want you to judge me before selfies. While you judge my bad hair, I want you to keep in mind there is more to me than these photos. I am in my 40s. Nothing has been easy. My body has been both a gift and curse. I have heard from people that I am “just big boned,” “small boned,” too skinny, too fat, weak, strong, sick, healthy, fast and slow. You name it, and I have heard it. I am a woman with 40+ years of experience and have heard many opinions of what “beautiful” is. Sometimes I can fit that mold, and other times I miss the target. The good news is I have my own opinion. I am passing judgment on my own selfies.

I will be celebrating my 22nd anniversary of motherhood this year. My body survived three high-risk pregnancies. My body carried me to the NICU at Children’s Hospital in Boston every day for two months. And my body gave me the three most precious gifts in this world.

three daughters

My body has also betrayed me multiple times, but somehow we have finally established an amicable working relationship. I am sure I will be betrayed in the future, and we will have to establish new rules. Today was  a gift I will never get back, and I am thrilled that I took advantage of it. I get to pass judgment because I know my journey was not easy. There was a time where I was so busy getting the wind knocked out of me that getting back up was reflex and not a choice. So today, I will celebrate my choice to find my best self. Today, I will thank the road that brought me to those legs, abs, and arms. I am strong because of hard work. And today I will take this body and run with it — so please, pass judgment!

woman doing squats in the gym

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Originally published: March 25, 2017
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