As I sat in the doctor office tying my shoe laces I explained to the psychical therapist what I had been doing recently. I explained that I went on a run every evening because I enjoyed running and it helped with my anxiety, but I wasn't very good. My best time was 14 minutes and 3 seconds. I tried my hardest and pushed myself, but I could never get to my definition of good enough.
As those words left the safety of my tongue into the open air I felt my face get flushed with a sense of embarrassment. I was 14 years old and had been training for 6 months and that's as far as I had gotten. I knew people who have done two miles in that time and I could barely do a mile. This was no accomplishment. As I began to mentally tear myself down for any "accomplishment" I had ever done she said something that has stuck with me since that day.
"Wow that's amazing, you should be really proud of yourself. You've come a really long way."
My mouth dropped. Proud of myself? For running a mile in a lousy time? At first I was kind of upset at the thought, but looking back she was right. I should be proud of myself because I have come a long way to get where I am today.
For a year I couldn’t walk. It was a miracle I was even alive – that I even had a leg to run on. I had more pain syndromes and problems with my joints from my lower back down then I could even count. As much as I didn’t want to admit it I do have a disability that’s not going to go away and isn’t easily treatable. I have over 10 ailments between psychical and mental health and I should be proud of any accomplishment I do make. Some of the conditions I have, have permanently disabled people to pain medication addictions and wheelchairs, but I could still walk – I could run and that was something to be proud of.
Even if I didn’t believe so at the time she was right. She said the thing I needed to hear for 2 years. I was doing a good job exactly where I was. There was no false expectation I had to live up to. I didn’t have to keep a brave face. The barriers and goals I had set for myself vanished and the chronic and disabling part of my chronic illness was acknowledged. I was doing a good job that I should be proud of and so are you.
Maybe you’re fighting a chronic illness like me and the competition to be like everyone else and keep a brave face all the time has overwhelmed you – you should be proud of yourself.
Maybe you’re struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts and nobody understands you. Maybe you went a day without hurting yourself or thinking about ending your life – you should be so proud of yourself.
Maybe you look in the mirror and hate your body and the urge to starve, hurt yourself, purge, etc. overwhelms you but you restrain yourself – you’re very beautiful and should be proud of yourself.
You could be taking care of a child or family member with psychical or mental illness and you constantly wonder if you’re making the right decisions for him/her – I promise you’re doing a good job and should be proud of yourself.
Or maybe you’re struggling with addiction, religion, sexuality, weight, gender identity, etc. – you should be proud of yourself.
Whether you’re going through something listed or you’re just having a hard time – you’re doing great, and you should be proud of yourself.
In life we all get defeated and knocked down, but it’s important to remember you
‘re doing the best you can and should be proud of yourself. We were never meant to do this life on our own and it’s always okay to ask for help. We all fall down and that’s okay as long as we get back up and keep fighting.
It’s okay to give yourself the affirmation you need from time to time and acknowledge your strength. Don’t forget to give yourself some credit for how far you’ve come.