D. Tyler Webster

@dtweb | contributor
I wasn't aware that not everyones bones ached until my teenage years. I have spent the majority of my 20s finding ways to cope with illness-some healthy, others destructive. Now, as I approach the end of being a 20 something, I have found joy in writing about my experiences of owning a body with illness. I came to The Mighty to share my story; in hopes to spread awareness, give a virtual shoulder to lean on, and be involved with a community of fellow spoonies.
D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

I'm Fine, and Other Lies I've Told Myself in Life With Chronic Illness

They say you’re not supposed to personalize physical pain, especially when it’s chronic. You shouldn’t refer to it as “my pain,” instead “the pain.” You can also give the pain a name. That way when it lingers like the last guest at a party you are able to remember the pain is in fact a guest, a guest that notoriously overstays their welcome.  I haven’t given the pain a fun name yet, primarily because I believe I’m fine. I don’t consider the pain or my experience with illness unique. Some bodies function properly with little to no intervention, and other bodies require extra attention. I am the latter. My body benefits from rationing energy, the assistance of a chic cane, and sometimes sitting in the shower. These are not the only interventions my body requires, and I don’t require them indefinitely. Along the way, I’ve become gentle with myself. During the times when a profound craving for substance-induced oblivion arises, or when I have to say no to events, or when I feel the disappointment I so eagerly avoid, I feel it. Even when it’s uncomfortable. I make sure to let it rise to the surface, make its appearance, and understand where it came from. I sit with it because I don’t delegate my rationed energy to suppression anymore, and let’s face it, it’s hard to run from things when you use a cane. I don’t believe in suffering in my circumstance. Sure, my mobility is sometimes limited and my growing pains have continued after my body reached its desired size, but I am fine. I have made coziness my religion. I have become fluent in the art of comfort while experiencing pain — mental or physical — which is practiced with surgical precision. Learning which pillow feels best under your knees and which blanket feels good on your skin during a flare is a process of trial and error that truly tests your endurance for annoyance. I have cataloged memories before the pain had clinical names. Memories where sore muscles were explained by dancing with friends or falling asleep on the floor, and the fatigue could be blamed on my insatiable hunger for new experiences. I realize now I have been swimming against the current for a while. For the majority of my life, I have been seeking the feeling of safety. I thought I found it when I left home and moved states away, or when I finally started taking anxiety medication. I even tricked myself into believing I found it in alcohol. If safety is found in something tangible, doesn’t that mean it can always be taken away? Maybe I’ve felt safe my whole life and was incapable of identifying the feeling, or it’s possible I’ll never find safety at all. Maybe I’m fine constantly seeking it, and maybe I’ll believe all the other lies I’ve told myself.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

D. Tyler Webster

How Ankylosing Spondylitis Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward. My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently. When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be. I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on the ability to endure the damage I inflicted. Maybe if I was taught to love my body, to nourish it, and speak kindly of it, I wouldn’t have sought comfort in harming it — while unbeknownst to me, it was harming itself. When your body begins to recognize its own tissue as foreign, and you’re presented with an illness that is out of your control, you become regretful of the harm you’ve inflicted on yourself. I wish I spent more time loving my natural weight instead of denying myself second helpings of my favorite meals. I wish I spent less time drinking. I wish I had spent more time being consciously grateful for my body’s abilities instead of doing my best to hinder them. I didn’t feel like my body was a good place to be then, which in retrospect is why I spent so much time being removed from it. Now, even while managing chronic illness, my body is a good place to be because I take care of it. I honor its fatigue, I support it with a cane, and I listen to its desire for a second helping of my favorite food. I am consciously grateful for my body’s abilities, even when they are limited. I can’t imagine hating a body that was created by two people’s desire to personify their love. I have the height of my grandfather, the easily tanned skin of my father, the dark features of my grandmother, and the bone structure of my mother. I see the characteristics of the people I love that weren’t assigned to my DNA in my siblings, and it seems impossible to hate my body when it is made from and shared with the people who taught me what it means to be a good person. I feel the softness of my belly, the weight of the bags under my eyes, the dull ache in my legs, and I fall asleep knowing tomorrow there is time to love the parts of myself I was unable to love today.

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