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A Love Letter From My Body as I Learn Self-Care With Chronic Illness

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My dear,

It’s been a year! You are tired — but a different kind of tired.

You are tired because you’ve cared for yourself well.  You are tired because the shifts to care for yourself well have been great, and completely necessary.

It’s been a year of claiming yourself. Defining yourself. Taking seriously your gifts and limits. A year of saying yes to your own healing in even deeper ways.

Thank you — for breathing, for doing EMDR, for committing to practices that serve you best.

Keep on letting go — while noticing your tendency to want to fill the void. Let the void stay though — this is the place where magic happens.

Be aware that your own tendency to over-exert, over-work, over-schedule comes from your own personal trauma patterns. And of course these are linked to capitalism, white supremacy and ableism. It’s the air you breathe. It’s in your DNA. It’s in your ancestry.

Even with your illness, you still find yourself reverting. Feeling like you need to be perfect to be seen and loved, or at least believing showing up takes a certain visible form.

Many messages you’ve internalized from justice spaces have been harmful. It’s time to let those go. Not to let the work go, but approach it differently in a way that works for you and not apologize for that.

You see, urgency for you must take the form of slow, committed, behind-the-scenes work. This isn’t you hiding — this is you thriving. There’s always a way you see the small wins lurking in the shadows — of your own life too.

Part of accepting your illness is knowing what is happening in your body.  Hashimoto’s is characterized by a hypervigilant fight or flight state where the body starts attacking its own tissue. It’s OK to know that justice spaces operate off this hypervigilance. That’s not something you can sustain — you would have a flare and be off the grid for awhile.

And part of healing is the reality that this hypervigilance lessens. Your body can now move more easily into homeostasis. It’s not always on guard, protecting, defensive.

As your hypervigilance lessens, your body seems confused. “What is this open, spacious, free space to live? I don’t know how to live here. It’s not comfortable.” So you return to what is toxic for your body, because that’s what you know.

Let’s work together and stop doing that.

Let’s keep the dark voids, the open spaces.

Let’s continually believe we are worthy of love. Always.

Let’s trust our own inner wisdom while still being teachable.

Let’s take deep breaths and rest.

You’ve already journeyed a good way in understanding rest, and you are learning it from a new place. You are not completely crashed and lying in bed all day. You are running a business, being a friend, connecting to people in deep ways. And you must learn again. You must teach me again, until I know on a cellular level what it means to take a full, deep breath and believe this spaciousness has always been my birthright.

For you know that solidarity is having your privilege and co-dependency in check. Solidarity is having a deep, strong sense of self, so you aren’t looking for approval or needing recognition.

This is deep, internal work, for white supremacy has formed white people, including yourself, to position yourselves as “white savior,” and to undo this creates a sense of “loss of self.” There is grief and anger, yet it’s an opportunity to find out who you really are. You’ve just been lulled to sleep.

Keep listening. You are right where you are supposed to be. So be all there.

So take time to rest. Discover your power. Discover yourself. Smile and laugh. Life is beautiful – and so are you.

Originally published: August 22, 2019
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