Giving Yourself Permission when Your World is in Pieces

Giving Yourself Permission when Your World is in Pieces 

Picture this. You’re a confident, self-sufficient Homo Sapien. Poised. Driven. Ready to take over the world with a wave of your hand. But then, BOOM. Life happens. Suddenly, you’re sick. Depleted. Dependent on the good will of others. And while relying on the kindness of strangers may have worked well for Blanche Dubois, you’re not so enamored with the concept. You become desperate. Smaller. A beaten warrior, trying vainly to keep going when all your resources have been plucked from you without so much as a “by your leave.”

How do you feel after reading this? Have your shoulders hunched up? Is your neck tense? Are you angry? Indignant? Sad?

This is what a person living with a debilitating chronic illness goes through every day. We wake up, and for one brief, shining moment, we’re the person we once were. Confident. Driven. Poised to seize the day. And then it hits us. We’re not that person anymore. And this knowledge can be just as crippling as the illness raging within our bodies.

So what’s a life-long optimist to do? We don’t want to become bitter and hateful, becoming a victim, spouting off why the world owes us. We want to thrive. To rise above the illness. To be the strong warrior others can look at and say: “Wow. You inspire me.” So we search for a new purpose. A new way for our lives to matter. Perhaps it’s exploring a new passion, or focusing on the little moments with your family. But then, just as you start your transition into Redefining You, that voice appears. The one in your head that tells you: “you’re not doing enough.” That compares you now to you then. That holds up a measuring stick comparing you to “normal” people.

Man, I hate that voice. It does me no good. I call mine Charmaine. (Mainly because I love alliterations, and saying: Shut up, Charmaine!! just trips off the tongue so satisfyingly.) But I digress.

I give that nasty voice in my head a name because I want to be able to call her out when she tells me that I’m not good enough. That I should be able to push through the crushing fatigue, or handle this emotional rollercoaster better. Charmaine doesn’t help me. But lately, I’ve learned how to banish her to the top of a dragon-guarded ivory tower. (Take that, Charmaine!)

My weapon of choice? Simple. Permission. Instead of beating myself up when my illness places limitations on me, I give myself permission. I quite literally say: “I give myself permission to…”

Take a break. To listen to my body. To push myself a little farther, and then be proud of myself when I have to lie down, instead of being angry that I’m so depleted. I give myself permission to be sad or angry or frustrated when I’m feeling particularly bad, and permission to be happy in spite of how hard my life is. I give myself permission to enjoy the little things, to notice the blessings in my life. I give myself permission not to compare who I am now to who I was then. (And I give myself permission to tell that charlatan Charmaine to shut the hell up!)

It may sound silly, but often, what we really need is to allow ourselves to be who we are and do what we must without judgement or guilt. After all, our lives are already hard enough. So let’s be proud of what we accomplish. Let’s celebrate the warrior within us. Let’s give ourselves permission to embrace our own beautiful humanity in all its mess and imperfection.

And as for that jerk Charmaine? Tell her to take a hike.

What about you? What do you give yourself permission to do today?

Love and light,

The Foda