Learning to Love My Body With Endometriosis: Overcoming Negative Self-Image

Let me first start by saying we all have difficulty accepting ourselves no matter our backgrounds, our identities, our afflictions, our imperfections, or our dreams. Self-love is a journey that never ends because our needs, wants, abilities, and circumstances change, sometimes daily. Self-love is a process and a ritual. It is a choice like getting up and going to work or school every day. It is difficult and it is rewarding, but the bottom line is that it is worth it. Because you are.

My journey started long before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, as I imagine it did with most other women. I struggled with sustaining a healthy self-image. I was tall, stood out, and I will never know what a thigh-gap is like. I was uncoordinated and nerdy –though that hasn’t changed much. I was blessed with a mature soul trapped in a young body and its limits; however, my discomfort did not end there. When I was diagnosed with endometriosis I had this feeling like my body was betraying me; like it was rejecting me like I had been rejecting it. I still struggle with that feeling as my pain persists. It got worse after my surgery when I was so bloated it looked like I was nine months pregnant with a hint of dysphoria, and a sense of the appearance of the stereotypical, self-fulfilling prophecy of teen pregnancy. I remember walking into the hospital for my post-op with my OBGYN, and seeing a whole line of expecting mothers accompanied by their own mothers looking at me disapprovingly, little did they know I was in the worst pain of my life and only expecting a long recovery, but they were facing their own unique challenges as well. That day I learned I had to add an addendum to my journey to self-love: to live my own life free of perceived judgments. I was projecting my own fears and insecurities on them when they probably didn’t pay me any mind or doing the same thing to me as I did to them. As I said, they had their own things to deal with including their own fears, insecurities, and fights to prevent the stereotypes, uninvited belly-rubs, and much more.

My journey continued beyond that day, as did theirs, through limits and challenges. My recovery took much longer than it should have in retrospect, but I was afraid to get better. I was afraid my body would turn on me once again. It kind of did. It was not until after my second surgery that I really started to accept my body, its curves, its pains, and its limits. Yoga was my saving grace. In yoga, we are taught to be truthful to others and to ourselves. We are taught to listen to our bodies and respect the states they are in at any given moment. We are taught patience and understanding and we relearn how to progress without allowing the limits to continue to stop us. Every time you fall out of a pose, you flow through the pose again and you find your balance. The same goes in life. When you fall, you find your way back and you remember to breathe and keep going.

I still have horrible days. In fact, I had one yesterday. I could barely get out of bed, and my negative thoughts and unhealthy body-image were full-blown and were flying left and right. I even projected my sour attitude onto others. I had fallen, and I was not flowing or breathing gracefully, but I was actively accepting the state I was in. I was out of sorts. I was allowing my emotions to get the better of me. I was not in acceptance of the pain I was in, but I knew I would get past it as I have too many times before. I continue to learn and grow each day. I find new ways to let people know I am in pain, and new ways to accept their help and support. I find new ways to love my body in whatever condition it is in, in that moment. I chose to flow and breathe. I chose to be mindful, to remain as strong as I am capable today, and to be truthful about who I am, where I have been, where I am going, and how I can become a better me today through the pain, challenges, and limits that I face.

I am a work-in-progress, and that is okay. No one is perfect, but that does not mean you are meant to uphold a negative self-image. We are all meant to grow, change, and become whomever we chose to be. Whatever you journey beholds, I hope you continue to find a path that helps support your metal, spiritual, and physical health and encourages a positive self-image and outlook on life. There is so much to experience, and pain is an experience, no matter how unpleasant, so learn and grow from it. Choose to reinstate your power by thriving through your challenges and growing past them. You are worth it.

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