Be kind to yourself when living with Chronic Illness

A friend of mine recently posted about the idea of choosing a word to try and live by rather than doing a New Years resolution. The idea is simple, you choose a word and let that word factor in your approach to life. Or that’s what I took it to mean anyway.
Well, I do generally like to try and make a resolution at New Year, but this year I couldn’t. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to achieve any set goals when some days I can’t even get out of bed. I did try. I tried to think of easily achievable things. Get dressed every day. Cook a full meal once a week. Go on a date with my husband once a month. But here’s the thing, even those simple mundane things are out of my reach right now. Many days I cannot even get out of bed. So getting dressed is out. (Apparently being dressed in bed is frowned upon.) Cooking a full meal and going on dates. Also Goliath tasks. If there’s one thing worse than having no resolution it’s having an ‘easy’ one and failing at it. Starting the year on a failure was not my idea of empowering.
Therefore I’ve decided to choose a word. My word is KIND.
Why KIND? Well one thing I really struggle with is low self esteem. Particularly in relation to my illness and the limitations it has put on me. But more recently in respect of my looks too. So I want to work on being KIND to myself. On appreciating that life is hard and I’m doing my best. Remember that my best is good enough and that I didn’t choose to be this way. This is not my fault.
I want to be KIND to my body. On good days I don’t want to push it too hard. I don’t want to resent my body for failing me, instead I want to remind myself that my body is still going, despite all its problems, and has given me two beautiful children. When I’m in pain I vow to rest, and try to put myself first.
I want to be KIND about my appearance. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing a run down lump, I want to see a mother. Instead of seeing my weight I want to see cuddles with my children. Instead of seeing the bags under my eyes I want to see the smile on my face. A smile that still appears even through the worst pain. I want to look in the mirror and start to love myself.
Mostly I want to be KIND about my achievements. I want to recognise those times I do get dressed or cook a meal, and give myself a pat on the back. I want to realise that though I’m not the mother I dreamed of being, I’m the best mother I can be. I want to focus on what I do manage, instead or wracking up my failures and beating myself up with them. 
Yes, of course I want to practice kindness towards others too. My husband and kids all deserve kindness. When I’m tired and in pain I will (try to) take a deep breath and calm down before I inevitably snap. I’ll recognise when my tone of voice may be taken aggressively and my words become harsh. At least I’ll try my very best to. But mainly I want to be KIND to myself, because this year I’d like to start believing I deserve it.

Published in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Illness / Disability, POTS
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