Living with a chronic illness makes it easy to hate your body. It isn’t working how it should and it feels as if it won’t stop letting you down. It is supposed to be simple, right? Eat healthy, exercise, manage stress, and you should be good to go. Unfortunately, people living with chronic illnesses know that it is not that simple.
When I first got sick I was furious at my body. How could it betray me like this? I took care of it and did everything I could to keep it happy. It no longer felt like my body was connected to my spirit, it was now something I envisioned myself fighting against.
As time has passed, I began to make the choice to embrace a lifestyle of gratitude. I would make myself say a list of three things that I was thankful for everyday. For example:
- I am thankful that I have a loving family and kind husband
- I am thankful that I have clean water to drink
- I am thankful I have access to so many books that help me cope with my emotional pain
But I was never thankful for my body; that felt like a given.
Most of you know that yoga is one of my favorite hobbies. It has the magical power of lifting my mood in just 5 minutes. One day as I laid in shavasana, I focused on my breath. A realization washed over me in an instant: I was breathing. My body was breathing for me. It is not something I have to think about. It is not something I will myself to do 24/7. Still, my body breathes.
How many other things does my body do to protect me everyday that goes unnoticed? How often do I not give it the credit it deserves? In that moment I understood that I had been viewing my body wrong. My body was fighting for me. My body has been keeping me alive. My body is working to fight this sickness and doing the best that it can.
Now my list of gratitude looks something like this:
- I am thankful that my body breathes
- I am thankful that I can walk, dance, and do yoga
- I am thankful for all of the things that my immune system does to protect me
I say to my body, “Thank you for thanking care of me”.
I had learned to love my mind and soul, but had rejected my body. Now I realize that there is no reason to keep up this battle. Why would I want to go to war against a part of myself? I am still in pain, there are good days and bad days, but EVERYDAY I am alive. That is something to be thankful for.