Vulnerability and Authenticity with Chronic Illness

What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful…there’s a word for it: authentic

Vulnerability is a scary thing. We don’t want to look weak. We don’t want people to pity us or judge us. We know we can’t be perfect, but we don’t want to seem too imperfect. So often, we think our imperfections are our flaws. However, we shouldn’t confuse the two or make them interchangeable. Because our imperfections are what make us unique.

When you have a chronic illness, you experience a whole lot of vulnerability. Your parents become your at home nurses, your friends have to run errands for you because you can’t physically get out of bed, your partner sees you cry out of pain and frustration or curled up in the fetal position because any other position is too painful. These are all vulnerabilities that we can hide from the outside world, though.

It’s one thing to be vulnerable with the people who care about you and love you – it’s a totally new ballgame when you show your vulnerability to strangers!

But, spoiler alert – you are human. Every single person you pass on the street is self-conscious about something. Every single person has an imperfection (or lets be real, imperfections). But not everybody shares theirs  and because of that, someone else who may have a similar imperfection feels alone or isolated because they think they’re the only ones like them. They may end up confusing imperfections with flaws and look upon their own imperfections with a negative mindset.

I know it’s hard to share our stories and our vulnerabilities because we think whoever we’re sharing them with may judge us. As humans, we sometimes judge another person or their situation simply because we are unfamiliar with or can’t relate to them or their situation. But, that’s not fair, is it?

I can raise my hand and say that I am still working on sharing my story and my health journey with not only strangers, but sometimes friends, because I’m worried they’ll look at me funny, or think I’m strange or think I’m over exaggerating my pain & symptoms. So, most of the time, I turn to writing because it’s personal and I don’t have to show it to anyone else.

writing in DC

But recently, I’ve been trying to really open up to my own vulnerabilities and show all aspects of my journey without hesitation or reservations. And I urge you to do the same.

Share your journey with others. Give the world a window into the unique person you are. No one else shares your story, but I promise you that someone else can relate to your story. By being vulnerable and showing that vulnerability to the outside world, you could be helping someone else just like you. And, honestly, you’ll end up helping yourself most of all.

For Those People Who I’ve Pushed Away

I’ve recently stumbled across the website The Mighty. It’s a website where people living with disabilities, diseases and mental illnesses can submit their real stories and have them published to not only reach those who suffer as well but to reach those who live with and love someone who is suffering. It’s an awesome site and It’s definitely worth checking out whether it’s relevant to you right now or not.

Recently published on this site was an article written by a young lady who I can very closely relate to regarding an issue that I’ve never really figured out how to quite put into words myself. She did a wonderful job doing so for me and everyone else who feels the same way.

Read the article here–“To My Loved Ones When I Don’t Want Your Company”

When I’m facing a high (as in a 9 or 10) pain day, most of the time I want to retreat to my bed, curl up under my covers and escape into my own world. Like the writer of this article said, it’s partially for my loved one’s sake but partially for my own sake.

I push my loved ones away for their sake because I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or sad.  So often when someone sticks around, I’m worried about how my health issues are taking over their life as well. My weakness is causing their mental and emotional strength to waiver and I will feel the need to protect them and to comfort them. While there are other times I am able to do this, during high intensity pain days, I don’t have the energy to do that.

But part of it is for my own sake. When I’m facing days like these, I end up getting so totally lost in my own head. I spend my time wondering how my heavy, throbbing head can feel so physically disconnected from the rest of my body. As the writer states in the article, it’s such a personal experience to feel so unwell to the point of not knowing how to handle your own body let alone your thoughts that arise from the unbearable pain. It’s an experience I don’t want anyone else to have to witness.

There are times when I need solitude and there are times when I need my loved ones around. Don’t feel as if it’s a personal attack when someone with a chronic disorder asks for you to leave during these high pain moments. We may not want you there in that moment, but we are so grateful for your willingness and readiness to be there for us whenever and wherever we need you.

 

Give Into The Vulnerability

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I feel like people really underestimate the effect of giving into vulnerability. Without it, you would never get over that hump of feeling scared, which then would prohibit you from being able to know what courage feels like.

People who open up about their health, financial, emotional, or any personal issues are giving into the inevitable (in most cases) feeling of being vulnerable about it. It’s scary to share your story with everyone, especially when you know a lot of people just won’t care to listen. The key is to forget about those people and focus on the people who will really benefit from you sharing your story with them.

I gave into my vulnerability by starting this blog, my health Instagram account, and sharing both with friends, family, and strangers. However, I’m so glad I did. I have been given a window into other people’s lives, a lot of whom are dealing with so much more than I, and who are still a beam of light in a world so often draped in darkness.

I’ve been inspired by their courage to continue to fight, myself. When you give into your vulnerability, you will see you are capable of so much you never even imagined.

Just today, I had a follower on Instagram tell me that she loves how positive I am and that it helps her continue to fight past her chronic pain. Such a little comment means so much. It shows me that because I let myself be vulnerable, I’ve been able to help others, which only pushes me to be more courageous.