“What matters the most is how you see yourself.”
So many of us do not truly love ourselves and listen to the voices of the outside world about who we are and focus only on what others think or say. I believe this is the reason so many of us are unhappy. Chronic pain changed me forever. I cannot say for sure if I had self love prior to my bike accident and chronic pain but I know how I felt about myself once the pain never went away. I searched for two things: a cure to my chronic pain and for someone to love me. I did not have the wisdom to know at this time that no one would truly be able to love me until I loved myself. Endless amounts of people did not believe I was in pain twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. My dad is the one person who not only believed me but went to every length to help me find a cure to the never ending pain that had taken over my life. I hated myself. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was ugliness and pain. I searched for love because I felt the only person who truly ever loved me was my dad and my grandmother, La La. I stayed in relationships too long just so I could feel loved despite chronic pain. I allowed people to treat me terribly because I truly believed I was nothing due to my invisible illness. I lived this life for so many years, it breaks my heart.
I remember the exact moment I began to love myself. I was sitting on the beach on a breezy, September day about three weeks after leaving the Pain Rehab Center where I learned to manage chronic pain naturally. I was one of the only people on the beach and had the bare essentials: meditation CD’s, a book, food, and the ocean. I remember just staring at the ocean and feeling complete peace and happiness. I loved being alone for the very first time in my life. I was proud of myself and knew I would never have to go to a pain doctor for a cure again. I was not cured from chronic pain but I finally learned how to manage the pain and not allow it to define me. I did not need love or acceptance from anyone because I was so proud of the person I had become and who had always been there but never seen. There is no greater feeling in the world than to love yourself: it radiates from the inside to the outside. I no longer cared if anyone believed I had chronic pain. I no longer cared if people thought I was different because I lived such a regimented life to manage pain naturally. There was nothing a person could say to me that could hurt me because I knew who I was and when I looked in the mirror I saw a girl who worked her ass off to accept and manage chronic pain naturally. I did not have a lot and at the time was living with my dad and La La. For years I was not able to read, sit, or do anything without pain destroying any joy I could have found. The fact that I could just sit in a small apartment and read a book was beyond anything I ever imagined would happen for me again. Everything people take for granted, I was loving because I loved my self and was managing pain in a healthy manner.
There have been ups and downs since I learned how to manage chronic pain naturally and there have been times that I stopped loving myself. People with chronic pain have a totally different outlook on life than those without pain. Once I learned to manage pain naturally and did not allow it to dictate my life, I loved myself and am happy with the simplest things in life. Although, it has been a very stressful few months and I am not managing my chronic pain as well as I have for ten years, I will never go back to a pain specialist or on pain medication. I know how to manage chronic pain and will be back where I am in control of the pain and loving myself again. Extreme stress causes the average person weight changes, sleep disturbances, depression, headaches, stomach issues, and a total absence of self love at times. If you have chronic pain and are under extreme stress you not only have all that to deal with but for most of us (yes, me included) our tolerance of pain becomes close to impossible at times. I need to remember who I am and why I live a certain regimented lifestyle to manage my pain naturally in order to not allow pain to get in the way of my happiness and peace. I must listen to my inner wisdom and remember that in the end no one can say or think anything about you that hurts if you truly love yourself. I always knew there would be certain times when chronic pain was not easy to manage but I am learning that we can also stop loving ourselves way too easily.