When Your Body Doesn’t Feel Like Home

Chronic Evolution Issue 17

Hello! 👋 

Welcome to Issue 17 of the weekly Chronic Evolution newsletter, where I share mindfulness tips, tricks, and anecdotes to help you evolve your mindset in 5 minutes or less.

Let’s get right into it.

When Your Body Doesn’t Feel Like Home

You know that feeling you get when you’re wearing someone else’s clothes? That tingly sensation that whispers, “I don’t feel like me.”

Sometimes that sparks boldness, freeing you to escape the mundane and embark on a glorious adventure where you can invent a whole new you.

But other times, all you can feel is the scratchy wool fibers of someone else’s sweater, and you’re counting down the seconds until you can be back in your soft, cozy shirt that smells like the right laundry detergent.

Having an invisible illness is like the second one. You long to peel off your skin and zip yourself up into something new. Something pain-free. The body you used to know and love.

Receiving a diagnosis of arthritis in my early twenties, and dealing with chronic pain for years around the same time, has taught me a thing or two about body alienation.

But somewhere along that way, the longing for what once was turned into a deep love for what now is. Funny how that can happen, isn’t it?

I didn't reach self-acceptance overnight, nor do I feel it with the same intensity every day, but I can say that when I look in the mirror, the body staring back at me feels like home. Thick thighs, soft stomach, pimples, and all.

Today, I want to break down the mental journey I went on to turn my body from a stranger back into a friend.

Whether you’re struggling with chronic pain or an invisible illness like I was, or feel disconnected from or betrayed by your body for different reasons, I hope that by sharing my journey, you can find inspiration to walk your own path to this destination.

4 stages of homecoming

1. Validation

For me, validation came in the form of a diagnosis. After struggling for years and being told I was “too young to be sick,” I finally received a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. I felt like it was my birthday, and I was wearing one of those Birthday Girl buttons that make you feel all important on your special day.

Look at me, I have arthritis. It’s a real medical problem that explains my pain. It’s not all in my head.

After years of being in the dark, I finally knew what I was up against. I dove into the research and learned all I could about psoriatic arthritis. But my relief was short-lived. I quickly discovered that the Internet had some pretty scary things to say about what this was and how it affects quality of life. Enter the next stage: Grief.

2. Grief

It was as if the body I had known and loved for my entire life had just up and left. I was trapped in a lesser version of myself, and I grieved for the pain-free body I used to have. The one I felt like I would never have again.

It was very much like moving through the five stages of grief.

I was so angry all the time. At myself for not being enough. At others for having what I wanted. I felt jealous of my able-body friends going about their lives with ease.

I grew to resent myself and would lie awake at night asking the Universe what I ever did to deserve so much pain. Telling it that I would do anything – anything – if it could just take this pain from me. I lost years of my life bargaining with a god I didn't believe in.

When I realized no one was coming to save me, I finally moved into the final stage of grief: Acceptance.

But it wasn’t to accept chronic pain as my new normal. Instead, I decided to accept that if I wanted to feel better, I had to rely on myself. And it started with changing how I felt about my body.

3. Forgiveness

I dove head-first into the woo-woo stuff.

Meditation, positive self-talk, affirmations. You name it, I tried it.

I won’t lie to you – at first, I thought it was gobbledygook. Not worth my time.

But I stuck with it because the alternative was living with my pain. And something kind of amazing happened. Ever so slowly, I felt my heart softening towards myself. I could look at my feeble body and feel love. Hope. Connection. The resentment slipped away and made room for forgiveness.

And so came the next stage, further distancing myself from my pain.

4. Empowerment

Once I forgave my body for being in pain, I was able to acknowledge that the pain wasn’t me but something separate. It does not make me less than or broken.

Anthony William (A.K.A. Medical Medium) teaches that your body is not attacking itself in the case of autoimmune conditions such as psoriatic arthritis. He says your immune system is always on your side, doing its absolute best to support you.

Coming across this school of thought, so different from what the medical community had been telling me, further bolstered my newfound intuition that my body was on my side.

This knowledge made me feel powerful, grounded, and deeply grateful for this body I get to experience life with. My body that no longer felt like a stranger. I was back home.

Final thoughts

I’m an Introvert, so for me, this journey was largely spent alone. I had to get really quiet so I could face all of the shame, guilt, rage, and despair inside of me. If you’re an Extravert, you might feel differently. As always, you know yourself and your needs best.

These stages are cyclical, not linear, meaning you won’t “arrive” at a final destination. The beauty of this work is that it’s neverending. Whatever stage you find yourself in today, ask yourself this: Can I show my body more self-compassion? Can I give my body more love for all that it can do rather than focus on what it cannot?

Your body loves you, friend. Just some food for thought on a Monday.

And if you’re looking for more practical actions to take when dealing with body alienation or chronic pain, check out last week’s issue, 5 Ways To Move Through the Discomfort of Chronic Pain.

To your chronic evolution,


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