Some people are just overly susceptible to falling sick and all other kinds of health issues. Growing up, I was one of them. This is part 2 in My Therapy Stories and I’m here to tell you about how inner child therapy boosted my self-esteem.
Growing up, I always felt so much guilt and shame, because my immunity wasn’t great. Constantly falling sick meant missing important events and opportunities. It’s funny and saddening at the same time to recall some of the things that shaped my image amongst people (and in my head too).
HEALTH (& GUILT) IN CLASS
I missed a lot of exams, took a lot of ‘half-days’ where my dad would have to bring me back early from school. I felt grateful for him, and yet quite ashamed of myself for constantly causing him this inconvenience. More and more, I tried to be independent and to not need my parents for anything.
Rarely, this was the case. So you can imagine the guilt-ception that followed. And the downward spiral of confidence levels and self-esteem.
This one time, when I was about 9 years old, our class went on a field trip to a house-turned-museum.
I was so sick that I puked in the museum’s non-usable toilet. Yikes! Post that trip, one of my classmate’s parents commented about how sick I always am. A face of disapproval and disgust accompanied her words.
In a session of Writing Therapy, I recalled this particular incident, which as a child became the root of my ever-increasing guilt. I was made to believe that I was inconvenient.
Another time, once I was back in India and a lot older, one of my teachers sympathetically told me that she thinks I should get some kind of special ‘havan‘ (an Indian ritual to please the Gods) done to free myself from all the ailments.
This same teacher went ahead and down-played my responsibility as a House Caption (to a Vice), just because she thought I’m always sick and won’t be available to take on the role. Thankfully for me, the Captain became one of my best friends, and we also had a good laugh about the situation.
Self-esteem? What’s that?!
Even as I continued to grow up, I continued falling sick and missing out on a lot of things.
In college, we planned the first and last trip, us friends. As you can probably tell by now, I didn’t go, because my health gave away, last-moment.
Sure, my friends were supportive, and also cracked a few jokes at my dispense, but internally, it can become exhausting never being able to rely on yourself.
For the longest time, people held the impression of me as the girl that always falls sick. That label, the one I appalled the most, clung on harder with each passing year.
BUT DID YOU DIE?!
No. Things finally took a turn when I began working.
Work was flexible – I could work from home if I wasn’t feeling well. By the end of my 3.5 years stint, I was barely ever taking time ‘off’ and I was in much better health.
Also, I had two adorable roommates that took care of me when I needed to be mothered. One would get me food, the other would bring back medicines on her way from work. They showed me that it’s okay and natural to fall sick. And that I am lovable, regardless of how well my white cells can fight.
When I first started living with my roommates, I would carry a sweater, umbrella and allergy pills even if we were going out for a dinner date. Simply because I didn’t want to fall sick. I used to carry a mask and stay miles away from anyone that remotely had a cold, because…. well.
HOW LOVE SHOWED ME MY SELF-WORTH
Of course, there were some really ‘down’ moments, such as the time I cancelled my own birthday because of an irritated Bowel, or the time I booked a trip but couldn’t go because of the same irritated bowel.
By the end, however, I was able to laugh at my sickness and honour the downtime. These were opportunities to reflect and rejuvenate my health, both mentally and physically.
There was a particular incident where I fell and my foot’s ligament tore. This meant months of bed-rest. And a big ‘no’ against visiting the water park.
I was no longer guilty. I enjoyed that day at home, colouring (therapeutic, by the way) and eating pizza. Now I knew better than to blame myself for a situation in which not much could be done.
Sometimes, therapy is simply a loving, conducive environment that lets you be you! Those 2 years taught me a lot about love, especially self-love. And that falling sick had nothing to do with my self-esteem.
THE LAST STRAW
When I fell sick before my wedding, it was embarrassing.
It was naturally a crucial time, and everything was falling apart for me. I wasn’t sure I would make it to my own engagement event. This was my trigger point, and I hit another all-time low.
My parents stood by my side and unconditionally supported me; telling me that it’s okay and that it doesn’t make me a weak person, just because I fall sick. I have the right to fall sick and be taken care of. My then-fiancee was sweet and kept insisting that he’d come see me, in spite of his own anxiousness.
Everything turned out great in the end, yes. In fact, it was like a miracle being able to actually enjoy my wedding. As though now, I was as good as new!
Much later, in a one-on-one session of counselling/healing, my healer helped me release more of this guilt and shame. I finally let go of a huge, deeply-rooted roadblock that was responsible for affecting my self-esteem.
Ever since, I practise affirmations to remind myself that my body is strong, and that I should be proud of myself for all the things I DO successfully do on all my good days.
Sometimes, therapy is just a reminder for ourselves to take it easy, and to let go of the performance pressure.
Physical & Mental Health are closely integrated. Once I started releasing myself from the guilt and living in a mindset of wellbeing, I started noticing a significant improvement in both spaces. My confidence level is like never before. And I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but in a way filled with self-love and joy for my progress.
There are a lot of ways in which we heal, and this is an attempt to show you the benefits of investing in what the world still ‘stigmatises’. Therapy.
Therapy isn’t for sick people. It’s for people that want to become healthier.
Read More : Inner Child Wounds
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