Who am i? Who was I?
I’ve been feeling at a loss of late, to recognise myself. For as long as I can remember I was strong in my strength in knowing who and what I was; friends and family focused, career focused, life-loving socialite. But this past few years has given me a beating. And the person I always knew seems to have slowly disappeared.
It came to a head the other night. I was again consumed by physical pain and fatigue and my mood was low. I was laying in bed as I do so often these days and I was scrolling through social media. All of a sudden I had a heaviness in my chest. I was looking at strangers and friends and seeing their lives. And all at once I felt a sadness. A sadness for the lack of life I currently have. I don’t dwell and I don’t wallow. Or at least I do it very rarely. But this night I felt a deep sadness. For myself.
I realised in that moment that I was comparing my life to everyone else’s. And you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that my batting average at the moment is pretty low.
It seems that chronic illness has striped my life to the bare bones. My health, my friends and family, my career, my social life. All seemed to be gone. And in this moment I felt a sadness that I hadn’t experienced before. And that sadness made me take a good hard look at myself and the way I was talking to myself.
You see these illnesses attack your heart. They attack your self confidence and your esteem for yourself. For it is the nature of these illnesses to take away all semblance of your previous life and leave you with a shell of yourself that is fighting for air.
But what I wanted to get across as important in this post, is that for some time now I have been going along with this. I have allowed my thoughts to edge toward the negative and I hear myself say things like:
“You’ll never work again”
“You never see your friends and family”
“You’re so weak”
“You’re so useless”
“You can’t do it”
…..and so on. You get the gist.
Never in all my years have I held such negative beliefs about myself. Never have I had to listen to these words in my head on constant replay. But I do these days.
And it was this night, when the sadness struck that I thought, hang fire! I am NOT those things. I am not those hideous words. I am much more than that! I am much more that THIS!
And I started to think in the complete opposite. I started to think about who I am, who I have been; my achievements and accolades, my unique characteristics and my beautiful family and amazing friends and how none of them have given up on me. And I began to say to myself things like: “Well actually, you’re an intelligent and beautiful soul who is loved. Very loved.” “You are blessed and you are whole”.
Now the point of all of this is not to write a list of things that remind me and you that we are amazing. You can google that. But it is to remind you that sometimes life throws us lemons. This happens a lot, and half the time we don’t know what we are doing. We just do our best to cope. But sometimes along the way and without us even realising, we get critical of ourselves. We berate ourselves. We hold ourselves to too high a standard. And it’s not right. And it’s not fair. It’s not fair to ourselves.
Would I tell my best friend such negative things about her? Would I tell someone I love very much that they were useless? No I would not! So why then is it ok for me to say these hateful things to myself? Simply put. It’s not ok. For anyone at any time to speak to themselves about themselves in this way.
So all of a sudden, in what had become a bit of a habit for me of late, I took a stand. I will no longer listen to this negative record. I will no longer allow these horrible words to penetrate me. Instead I will allow only positive and helpful adjectives of myself. Because that’s what I deserve. And so do you.
So on a night where I almost unfollowed social media, something miraculous happened. I woke up to myself. And I reminded myself of all the wonderful things I am and all the wonderful things I bring to this world and the people around me and for all the wonderful things I should be grateful for.
Maybe you don’t recognise yourself these days either? Maybe the person you always associated yourself with has completely changed? Maybe this new part of your life is so far removed from the old that you feel that old you had gone? I get it. I’m living it.
And I tell you all of this for one reason only. And that is to encourage you. And me. So that when that negative record starts playing in your head. Press stop! Imagine a bloody massive stop sign. Allow only light. Bright light.
You, nor I, deserve to be subjected to this kind of bullying. And the worst part about it is that we are the bullies. To ourselves.
I know if nothing else that these illnesses take every inch of energy that I have. And I now acknowledge that fighting the fight each day is an achievement in itself. It may not be the normal kind of achievement, but to me its big. So rather than underestimate this and therefore myself, I will acknowledge my strength.
So when you’re next on social media and your stomach takes a lurch because someone’s life looks so much better than yours. Just stop. Remember: 1. Their life is likely as equally stressful and shitty as yours. 2. No one shows the shitty bits 3. No ones life is ever comparable. It shouldn’t be comparable. Don’t compare. We all have our own shit to cope with. 4. It doesn’t matter. You’re all that matters and what you think of you is THE most important thing.
So I guess this post is to remind myself who I am! I am Kiki Jennings. And to date I have a pretty good resume for a career and for a great life. And I know that these illnesses do not mark the end of it. In fact I’m sure the best has yet to come. So I guess I am Kiki with all I have accomplished this far, but on pause for a while, awaiting the next big chapter.
So on those days when you forget who your true self is. Think of every possible positive descriptive word and that’s you! And me! All of us!
What I know for sure is that the good stuff stays. And even when a whole heap of shit has been piled on you. And maybe things are nothing like they were. You’re still you. You as you ever were. So keep reminding yourself of your best bits. And I promise to do the same.
Onward my loves,