Friday, June 24, 2011

My Best Friend

   
Jenni over at ChronicBabe chose "My Best Friend" as the theme for this week's Blog Carnival. At first, I was going to skip this one - I am in the extremely lucky position of having several people in my life who qualify as best friends. Choosing only one didn't feel right and writing a post about why I love tem all would have kept you here until tomorrow. And then it came to me. The friend that gets there even before the closest of my other best friends.

My body is my best friend.

Odd? The woman with RA and fibromyalgia, wheelchair user since the age of 16, the one who lives with high levels of chronic pain and disability and I could keep this going for a little while, but that would get boring and prevent me from getting to the point. So yes. That woman. Me. I consider my body my best friend.

I didn't used to see it this way. For years - decades, even - I hated my body. For all the reasons listed above, for betraying me, for the weakness, the pain and for all the things I couldn't do because of it. I hated the way I looked, hated the deformities caused by my RA, hated how my exterior didn’t match my interior idea of what I looked like, how I moved. Hated it so much that I cut myself completely off from it, described myself as a brain in a jar. I was my personality and only that - my body was not part of who I was.

And then the big flare hit and the Biologics gave me back my life and it made me see the world in a different light. Living inside a miracle every day has a way of expanding your horizons, challenging your preconceptions. There was a lot of work around gratitude, finding peace and true happiness in a small life, not knowing that it would continue to grow. Somewhere within that journey, I began to see my body as my partner in it all. Began to realize just how much my body did for me, carrying me through every day with some pretty significant challenges. Began to see that the enemy was whatever triggered my immune system to attack itself, not the body that couldn't stand up to that. Because if an autoimmune disease is as mysterious and unknown that the medical profession still do not know what is, although it can suppress the activity, still cannot fix it, why would I expect anyone, including my body to be able to withstand the assault?

That's when I started listening to my body, to what it had to say. I have memories of moments where I remember opening up and hearing it crying the way I wanted to cry, hearing  it tell me that it was trying, was doing its best and I realized that hating my body, blaming it and accusing it of betrayal meant hating myself. That is when I realized that my body and I are partners in this life, that we support each other, that there is no separation between me and it. We are a whole, a unit and together, we get up every morning and we get through the day. Some days are good and some days are less good, but when I go to bed, I try to remember gratitude towards this, my best friend.

A best friend supports you, helps you through the hard times, celebrates with you in the good times, smacks you upside the head when you're doing something stupid and makes this life possible. Every day, my body supports me to do what I want to do, enabling me to do the work I love, to be there for my family and friends, to take care of an animal and to love my favorite man in the world. On the hard days, my body gets me through, complains with me, sometimes cries with me, but regardless of what has been thrown our way, it has seen me through to the other side. There are times when I should be in a lot of pain because I do too much, but it somehow takes it on, absorbs it and allows me to be free to do what needs to be done. Afterwards, it smacks me and sometimes hard to remind me it was unwise (the sinus infection and gastrointestinal "adventure" I've had this week qualifies as a well-deserved smacking from taking my body for granted for entirely too long). And in the good times, we celebrate together, feeling the freedom and joy that comes from well-managed pain and a sunny day.

I couldn't do this without my body. Without my best friend. And for the first time in my life, I try to be a friend to it, as well.
   

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