Perhaps I should come with a warning label?

Why do I have the need to let people know right off the bat that I’m broken?  Perhaps, if they acknowledge that they are already dealing with “damaged goods,” their expectations of me will be lowered.  And therefore they won’t be disappointed when, eventually, as always happens, the true nature of my abilities (disabilities?) are revealed?

As so many of us that deal with chronic illness, especially those on the “autoimmune spectrum,” my illness is all on the inside.  At first glance, I appear to be a healthy, well put together woman.  My skin doesn’t look wrinkled or marred (as long as you don’t get a peek under my shirt at my surgical scars!);  I enjoy dressing in cheerful colors; I’ve applied a layer of make-up to brighten up my pale face and disguise the circles under my eyes.  I am not gaunt, in fact my multiple meds. give me quite the “robust” appearance!  I am putting on a show!   But inside… now that’s marching to the beat of a whole different drummer!  While I stand smiling at you, nodding at your comments, and putting on my happy, hopeful face, there is a war going on inside me.  One that I am rapidly losing.  The Autoimmune Army has already marched its way across my muscles, joints and cartilage, my colon and small bowel, my spine, my cranium, my nervous system, my kidneys, even my heart, giving me an atypical heart attack at 39!  At that’s just a quick summary.

So, how do I rectify these two disparate sides of myself?  I am both… I truly am the happy, hopeful person you see on the outside; the one who enjoys feeling pretty, who craves to be “normal.”  But I am also the hurting, struggling woman who has to fight her way through each day.  Whose participation in the simplest of social activities will knock her out for days.  Whose attempt at the most minor household chores sends her into tears of frustration.

So, I think, perhaps I should come with a warning label:  Contents may be different than they appear.   But, that’s really not the answer either.  Because then I have already disqualified myself, undermined my abilities.  I truly don’t know what I’ll be able to do on a given day.  But what if it’s one of those rare “good days?!”  The ones we all hold on for.  I’ve already discounted the weight of this by telling everyone I’m just not up to par.

There is no clear answer here and my approach continues to fluctuate.  But, the most important thing I’ve learned is not to count myself out.  And to seek out friends who are kind, caring, and, most of all, flexible.  And then share with them the “truth,” my own reality, and see how they react.  I wouldn’t go on a blind date and immediately blurt out my deepest secrets.  So why would I want to include any of this in an initial introduction: “Hi, my name’s Tamara.  Glad to meet you. Oh, and by the way, I’m a broken, hurting person… just so you know.”  How ridiculous is that?

I am not broken!  I am complex!  I am unique!  I don’t take life for granted, because every moment presents a new opportunity to learn something about myself or the world.  I have deep empathy for people with a wide range of conditions.  I get you, and you get me.  We are not alone!

It’s during these times, that I gently remind myself to push the pause button.  To take a deep breath.  And to practice a beautifully healing mantra my friend Lisa shared with me.  I’ve just paused and given myself this gift.  Now, I am going to pass it on to you…

Nature's Love

Nature’s Love

1.   Take 4 deep, cleansing breaths

2.  Place your right hand over your heart (the most important step… give yourself the gift of this healing touch!)

3.  Repeat this mantra 4 times:

“I am a whole and lovable person just as I am.”

“I am a whole and lovable person just as I am.”

“I am a whole and lovable person just as I am.”

“I am a whole and lovable person juts as I am.”

4.  Allow yourself a few minutes of relaxation.  Breathing love into yourself, feeling the power of being uniquely you.

The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere and at any time.  Even in a room full of people, no one will notice if you casually place your hand on your heart and silently repeat the mantra.  After a while, just the touch alone is a soothing reminder to bring you back to center.

I would love to hear about what techniques others employ to remind themselves that they are right where they are supposed to be.  That they are right who they are supposed to be.  Please share your thoughts and comments!

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7 thoughts on “Perhaps I should come with a warning label?

  1. Thanks for sharing this… I’ll try this as often as needed… At a young age of 17, I started to feel and see the signs of arthritis. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and unlike any other teens, I was deprived of time to hangout with friends… for some reasons, my joint pains were always active during weekends! Well, on the brighter side, I seldom experience knee and hip pains during school days…. Anyways, my problems with my hips, feet, and knees’ joints after my successful stem cell treatment with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr Purita. I can’t say I am lucky to find the best treatment and supportive doctor for me since I have gone through different specialists and lab/xray procedures before that and that my parents have already spent a lot for me and my joints (Thanks Mom and Dad!)…. Funny, coz everybody believed that I am healthy and fit because I regularly run, but nobody knew that that time, I was suffering… I didn’t want my friends to know about my OA… most people think that arthritis are for seniors and not for a teenager……

    • Hi Kris…
      I am so sorry that you are in so much pain! I wish I could think of a gift to give you to relieve this but the only one I know of, is to let you know that you are not alone! Its hard to explain to others, especially when you are so young (I got hit with all my arthritic/rheumatological “crud” at 28 and I thought that was young!). You sound like you are doing a remarkable job in a tough, tough situation. And, I personally, don’t think there’s anything wrong in pushing ourselves to live life fully even if we’ll be in pain later. At the same time, don’t be afraid to live your own truth. I “hid” behind a mask of “I’m okay” for far too long… now that I am honest with those around me, when the time is right, I feel like my relationships are more authentic. Some friends have left but even more (the true ones) have stayed.
      And I know how hard it is to feel gratitude some days… but we can always find some small thing to feel thankful for. It’s truly healing. And the generosity/support of family is a big one!
      hang in there and keep in touch. I hope today brings you love, light & Hope… the one thing no one or not one thing can take away from us!
      🙂 Tamara
      PS- I am curious about your stem cell transplant!

  2. Thank you so much for your support.. I really appreciate it… sharing inspirational blogs like this is enough to enlighten the spirits of those who are in pain and who had been in h3ll like me.. LOL…
    I think my ortho surgeon still offers free consultation… You may try checking at Stem.md
    I am still gathering more tips and advices, but soon I will update my blog about my OA experience… Stay positive and I will be looking forward to your next posts. 😀

    • Thank you!
      they had put this is my spam folder (?) so I didn’t see it right away.
      Thanks for the doc info and, I too, look forward to reading more of your posts.
      Stay strong… stay bright!

  3. Kris and Tamara, thank you for telling us about your life! That is so precious! Tamara, you ask about ‘techniques’ – well just today I stumbled across one for me: I just stand still wherever I am at the moment, spread our my arms and say “My Happiness!” with a big smile like I’m smiling to my happiness – a spirit-being that I have neglected to greet for a long time, and now I am just greeting this wonderful being: My Happiness!
    with love to both of you! tomas ♥

    • Beautiful!
      Thank you for sharing this technique! I just practiced it, in this moment, sitting in my living room. And it felt expansive and warmly enveloping all at once… I both embraced the Spirit of Happiness around me, and the Spirit of Happiness within me.
      Thank you!
      You may find me weaving your technique into one of my future posts 🙂 tamara

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