Andrea's self love story…
I had no idea how much my body needed my love until I was given the gift of a perspective shift. Having always been basically at war with her, with my rheumatoid arthritis, for as long as I could remember.
I was determined to fix her, to find a miracle cure that would free her from the pain of feeling trapped and stiff.
In my very hot pursuit to “cure” myself, I was blinded to the real truth- that I secretly hated my body and criticized and judged the shit out of her. Every morning I carefully looked her over, searching for signs of inflammation, that I would then look at in disgust, my mind racing for ways to alleviate it.
I thought I knew what self-love was, I thought that my fierce commitment to doing everything I could possibly do to “heal myself” was self-love. I for sure thought that ALL of the routines I did, all of the doctors and healers I went to, and all the alternative treatments I was constantly trying or implementing, were self-care.
It wasn't until I was asked a very simple question did I realize the truth.
“What if the pain just wants love?”
Flabbergasted and confused, I thought-- what do you mean the love the pain? How is that even possible? I have been hating it and fighting it and desperately trying to “cure” it for as long as I could remember.
She said to me, “surrender and embrace this as your gift, your fight against it is only exacerbating it.” I was further shocked.
My gift? No way, I thought, this is my problem! Because of this “gift,” I am diseased, disabled, and there is something wrong with me!
The idea of surrendering to it had NEVER crossed my mind either, what would that even feel like?
I felt like my grandmother's spirit was there that day, holding my hurting hand. Like she was speaking through this angel that shared this information with me. This notion that woke me up out of the illusion of self-hatred.
I went home and sobbed for how shitty I had been to my body. For the first time, I saw how much she had been through, how much I had put her through. When I looked down at her, I didn't see an inflamed diseased person that needed to be fixed, I saw her as a survivor, as a warrioress.
A beautiful, strong and capable body that had actually been doing really amazing considering the circumstances, considering the way I talked to her, and treated her. I was constantly thinking how much I hated her joints, the way they looked, the WAY SHE WAS.
She was never good enough, she would appear “better” some days and I would be happy and then the next day, when she was hurting or inflamed, I was mad at her. Why does there have to be something wrong with you, why did I get this shitty body that doesn't work?! Were literally my thoughts, quite shocking as I would never treat anyone else this way.
I couldn’t believe it, my behavior, my attitude, no wonder she was always hurting ALL THE TIME! I of course, never would have spoken any of that out loud, that was all very secret and subtle mean girl shit I was inflicting on myself.
In total despair at the realization of all this, I felt super uncomfortable in my own skin and crazy disoriented. Who would I be if I were not sick or on a crusade to heal myself? That had been my identity for FOREVER. I started searching for a way to alleviate the pain. I got up to go pour a huge glass of wine to drown my sorrows in when out of the corner of my eye I saw a package of the chocolate scrub sitting on the bathtub.
Susan, my roommate at the time had shared a personal practice of her’s where she would create space to sit down and love on her body with massage oil and make a ritual out of it. She would light a candle and literally take time with her body, massaging her, loving her. I had never had a relationship with my body where I would have even regarded her as “her.” I had also recently learned a transformative Hawaiian chant from my Maui sisters for forgiveness called, ho’ o pono pono.
I was no doubt being guided that day, out of my usual self-sabotage from my emotional and physical pain to a new way to love and care for myself. I drew a hot bath and through the biggest, saltiest tears begged my body for forgiveness. Saying over and over, I am so sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. Massaging her with the chocolate scrub, realizing I had never really loved her just as she was before, it was eye-opening, to say the least.
Something happened that day, the shift from secret hatred to compassionate love also shifted the way my body looked to me too. When I looked down at my hands, which I usually only saw inflamed, ugly joints, I thought for the first time, wow my hands are actually quite beautiful.
I had been searching for the answer to “heal myself” for so freaking long. For the answer to be love, forgiveness, compassion, and understanding was actually a RELIEF, and felt so manageable, so doable, and finally is what clicked in the best way for me.
I've been free of all medications since then, over 6 years ago now. The power to heal myself was within me that entire time, the power of my own love, the ability to surrender and embrace my “problem” as a gift.
The pain did need my love, and this, in fact, is my gift.
I continue to practice loving my body multiple times a week with the chocolate scrub. It is my way to pay gratitude to her, for all that we have been through in the past. How I continue to love + honor her as we embrace the inevitable changes, together.
It's been a long road to even having the courage to tell you this story, as the fear of exacerbating the disease in me has kept me from talking about it, and its also been super tempting to “just leave that in the past girlfriend.” I now realize and appreciate that this part of my story is a HUGE part of who I am today and why I am so dedicated to teaching about the value of self-love.
I now know that I was super blessed to have those simple words sink in for me like they did that day. That I am strong enough now, to share those simple words and my practice of self-love with others. In doing so, I hope that anyone else who like me might be searching for a cure, or secretly dislike their bodies and themselves, will greatly benefit from hearing about my journey into self-love.
I feel like on some level you too can relate to this “secret + critical” way of treating your beautiful body. I know my version might seem extreme, but notice the thoughts in your mind when you look at your body, are they loving and kind? When you're honest with yourself, then the real healing can begin.
I am here for you as you embark on this new, beautiful journey into loving your body like I do mine, now:) My body literally looked different to me when I softened my judgment on her, can you see how beautiful and amazing your body is too?