About two months ago, I realised something. It came as a bit of a shock because I have had some pretty difficult and dark times over the last couple of years.

I realised that I am okay with who I am.

I know that it sounds kinda clichéd and like I’ve been reading a book of inspirational quotes (which I’ve not!) but it was a little of a revelation. Because for some time now, I’d felt like I really didn’t like who I was.

This all happened one afternoon as I listened to my daughter and a couple of her friends playing outside. They were sprawled out on the front veranda, lying on their stomachs, drawing, looking up occasionally to see what our new puppy was up to. In between such busy-ness, they were speaking about what they liked about each other and what they liked about themselves.

I love this about kids. Before they develop the ‘I must hate and criticise myself lest people think I am up myself’ gene, they feel free to say that they are pretty damn great. Because they are.

My daughter is really lovely when people compliment her. She smiles and says ‘thank you’. And sometimes, she says ‘I know’. It’s beautiful and honest.

You’re a great reader,’ I told her the other day when she told me she wanted to read Anna Karenina (seriously – no idea, but she’s six chapters in and loving it). ‘I know. I love to read,’ she answered. She didn’t sound boastful or conceited. She was acknowledging what I said as the truth. Because, it is!

When someone compliments me, I make up every reason to discredit their comment which, when you think about it, is actually very rude.

Having a chronic health condition makes it really easy to think that we are not enough or that we are broken. Add to that any other health concerns and suddenly, we can start to think of ourselves as hopeless. And when we start to add feelings of distress and a significant reduction in our emotional wellbeing, things get worse and worse.

Supplement that with other things that are getting us down and it is only a little hop, step and jump away from feeling hopeless, desperate and desolate. It’s hard to see anything good in ourselves.

The bottom line is that I stopped liking myself. I stopped being able to see the good or the positives and I simply could not be proud of anything that I was doing – even though during that time I knew I was doing some pretty amazing things.

I’m not sure what it was that jolted me out of this. I’d like to think it was ‘bolt-of-lightening’ like, but I don’t think it was. Perhaps it is the robustness that comes with age that reminds us that actually, through the shit, there is good. And a rather Pollyanna-ish attitude that ‘this too will pass’.

I listened to the kidlets and smiled. And then I remember thinking ‘Actually, I’m okay too. I really do like myself. I deserve to have good things happen to me, because I am worthy and good.’

I stopped thinking about my health problems as things that made me fragile and shattered, instead conceding that they are part of the sometimes fragile fabric that when put together makes up me.

I stopped thinking that the things that had been upsetting me where a reflection of the person I was and accepted that many of those particular things were out of my control and had nothing to do with me.

And just like a patchwork quilt, when you look at the pieces alone they don’t make sense and they are not really useful or beautiful or amazing or wonderful.

But when you put them together, they work.

I like myself. And it’s a really, really, really amazing place to be.

 

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