Reframing: Autoimmune vs. NLP, Mantras & Affirmations
(Sorry--end of year angst for this Cherry-grrl. I probably have even more posts in me tonight, but I'll try to hold off until tomorrow! haha)
If you've been following my journal for long, you know that I have Sjogren's and Lupus. What you might not know, is that this is not an adult-onset set of diseases for me, though I was able to manage as a normal person until about 13 years ago. In fact, I missed the last two months of my senior year of high school due to what I can only describe as my very first flare, and it was a doozy. Pretty sure I've had autoimmune since I was very young, as I've had Raynaud's Syndrome, asthma and severe allergies as long as I can remember. I also had a traumatic childhood filled with abuse, fear (not just because of my parents, but we also had people stalking our property for months and they burned our garage down to the ground, nearly taking our house and us with it--they were not caught for 3 years, and I swear I got an average of *maybe if I was lucky* 3 hours of sleep at night from age 10 to age 13, just waiting for them to come back to "finish the job" as my overactive imagination and I believed whole-heartedly that the arsonists meant to kill us because the monster (biological father) was a horrible person in general. Turns out that the arsonists did not even know us. They just got a kick out watching shit burn and were on the volunteer fire department that served our rural community. Our garage fire was their first and they set about a dozen others before they were caught.), and it's unfortunate that I got so severely ill when I was still a minor and I still could NOT leave my parents' house when I turned 18 because I needed to remain on their insurance to literally continue living.
Like many folks who have chronic illness, I tend to focus on things I CANNOT do instead of what I CAN do and what I am accomplishing. I know on an intellectual level that the things we tell ourselves have a major impact on our health, relationships, self-esteem, etc. Overall, I consider myself fairly optimistic. That said, I could do MUCH better.
Maybe more than anything else, I need to reframe my situation for 2021. Ever since I was let go from my paralegal job in 2016-- because at that time I could not physically work a full day, I couldn't really see, and I was making mistakes left and right as a result. It was not a supportive environment in any way, so I got yelled at quite a lot when I began working below the level they were accustomed to. This made me feel increasingly worse about myself and it made me sicker and sicker. When they fired me, I was horribly embarrassed. I took great pride in my work. I worked my way up the corporate ladder, even building databases and programming in the 1990s and early 2000s and was quite successful without a formal degree (I have a travel/tourism diploma from tech school (that is a topic for another entry sometime) and some college, but never finished my degree.).
Getting fired was quite possibly the greatest gift I will ever receive in this lifetime. At the moment I realized I was being fired, I had the biggest rush of relief I have ever experienced. Although I was successful in the corporate world, my heart has ALWAYS belonged to the literary arts. When I started climbing those corporate ladders, I was a single mommy. Quitting my job, eating Ramen noodles and living on a shoestring budget to follow my dreams was not an option back then. That isn't my case now, nor has it been for 22 years. Now? I'm free! I can follow my dreams now. Why haven't I? I still have one foot stuck in the corporate world. I think I had something to prove to the world back in the day, but I really have nothing left to prove now other than I can follow my dreams. What I need is to become a fully-fleshed writer (and now artist), like I've been dreaming about since first grade.
I'm also too focused on what I cannot do. I can't work a full day. I can't handle a lot of stress. I can't run. I can't do this. Or that. Blah-blah-blah.
This kind of self-talk is pure, unadulterated self-sabotage.
In 2021, I don't want to focus on what I can't do anymore. I want to focus on what I CAN do. I can still write! Maybe I can't have those huge marathon days where I just sit and write for hours and hours on end. But, I can still write. Autoimmune hasn't killed my creativity. I can still walk and hike! With the advent of all these virtual races during the pandemic, I'm able to participate in charity races again. I can still dance! I can still love. Read. Enjoy music, good food, friends, travel, life.
I'm trying to come up with a suitable mantra to carry me through 2021. I want it to be in the vein of "I'm healthy, wealthy and wise" but I don't want it to be quite so cliché, so I'm thinking on it.
Down with the negative self-talk! Onward, forward and upward!
With a little bit of reframing, I just might be able to bridge that gap between chronic illness and what my life's purpose (my personal legend) really is.