Opening Up To Life and Love Again

Much of my life has been spent on truly traumatizing and painful experiences that continue to haunt me to this day. That is, in addition to dealing with eczema and TSW (topical steroid withdrawal) along with quite a few other chronic health conditions.

So much of my identity has been wrapped up in that, that I felt I lost other parts of me and it became my whole identity. In all honesty, because of this, I’m not sure I have ever truly lived, despite being alive the entire time.

Why was it so hard for me to accept love?

After a lifetime of trauma and being bedridden due to health conditions for 7 years and being completely isolated for the most part, I got to a point where I didn’t know how to receive love and care from anyone. Not only did I not know how to receive it, but I didn't feel I deserved it. I felt I deserved the pain and suffering I was experiencing, and must be an awful person.

The more I have worked on cultivating self compassion, the more I’m also able to receive it from others... slowly but surely. I’ve had many bad relationship experiences in the past, both platonic and romantic. Many of them ended in relation to eczema and other health conditions. For many years now, I have kept my heart closed and guarded, in an attempt to protect myself from more pain and suffering. I sort of just accepted the idea that, well… I didn’t deserve love or care, and I’d never receive it.

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What has changed?

Somehow though, in the last few months, through a string of seemingly random but serendipitous events, something, and someone, came into my life and began to change all of that.

Thanks to other communities outside of the chronic health world, I got to meet some amazing new people I’m proud to call friends now. While we don’t all live near each other, and many of us are scattered all around the globe, it has felt like a tight knit family from the start. And the beauty of it is that I’ve been able to deeply connect with others again, on a heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul level.

How have I healed?

Slowly, I’ve been learning to let others in again, after being shut down for so long. And I have to admit, it’s absolutely terrifying. But it’s also been incredibly beautiful and transformational.

There has been so much power in allowing myself to be cared for again, to be loved again. And reminding myself that I’m worthy of it, just like everyone else. Whether my skin is flaring up and red and itchy, or looks completely clear, it doesn't make a difference or change my inherent worthiness. This kind of connection has been incredibly healing for me, and a much needed reminder that I am so much more than my flare ups and my skin, that it is okay to live, it is okay to open up to and trust others again, and it is even okay to love again.

How can we remember we are more than our skin?

Sometimes, we have to take a step back from what has been our reality for so long. It becomes a comfort zone, no matter how painful it may be. It's so important to explore other things, other places, and other experiences. This can all help us remember that there is so much more to us than skin and eczema. Our skin is not our identity. And most of all, that we are worthy of all the beauty and incredible things life has to offer. We must continue to remind ourselves of that, however many times it takes, for however long it takes. Especially when we falter and have a hard time... because it's in those moments we need acceptance and love more than ever.

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