How and Why You Need to Live Your Autoimmune Life with Moxie
CAUTION: Within this post, I make a very candid admission that may be triggering for some.
Let’s play a little word association game… What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘bold?’ The dictionary offers multiple definitions that include words like confidence, empowerment, assuredness, bravery, and courage. For me, I think of the word ‘moxie.’ As a well-seasoned, former type-A people-pleaser who has finally found her voice after years of therapy and personal development, I am all about moxie. I even have a blog called, Lauren in Charge: Diary of a Midlife Mom with Moxie and Muscle, that’s all about living the second part of life (a.k.a., midlife) honestly and unapologetically, which is why this month’s theme is right up my alley.
SIDE NOTE: Do read my blog if you like sassy wit, brutal honesty, and unsolicited advice, but keep in mind that my personal writing has taken a back seat these past few months thanks to a new job, a very busy work schedule, and the challenges of pandemic living. But hey, it is what it is. No excuses or apologies here — I don’t do that anymore! Anyway, back to the point…
You see, in addition to being an Autoimmune Sister, I am also a PTSD warrior who suffered silently for decades after experiencing childhood sexual abuse. The burden of keeping such a monumental secret for so long, coupled with the damaging self-beliefs and harmful coping mechanisms that followed, were negatively affecting both my mental and physical health, and exasperating my autoimmune disease. In Ayurvedic medicine, chakras, or energy systems, are thought to play a vital role in our well-being. The fifth chakra is the throat, and it is associated with communication, emotion, and creativity. When it is blocked or out of balance, we feel stifled and silenced. Physically, this often manifests as thyroid problems. This was me, to a tee.
There are many ways to open up your throat chakra, from chanting and breath work to incorporating stones and the color blue. For me, it took years of EMDR therapy to find strength, acceptance, and, eventually, my voice. And now that I have, I am able to communicate more authentically and speak my truth without fear of judgement because my fifth chakra is open and aligned.
I’ll admit, getting to this place of confidence wasn’t quick or easy. Frankly, I still falter and doubt myself on occasion, slipping back into old, negative patterns. But I also know that I can draw on all the work that I’ve done to get back on track. After I allow myself to feel the negative feelings, I question their veracity. I look for evidence to contradict my negative beliefs and remind myself that I’m worthy, deserving, and more than capable. After all, I may have issues, but I’m still a badass, bold momma (or as I like to say, a BAMFwi).
So how does this relate to autoimmune diseases? What does living boldly with confidence and moxie mean for an Autoimmune Sister?
- Putting yourself first without guilt or shame
- Knowing what serves you and what doesn’t
- Setting boundaries and saying no (Full stop. End of sentence.)
- Speaking up and advocating for yourself and your needs
- Not defending your choices or apologizing for your illness
- Accepting your flaws and embracing them as part of what makes you, you
- Speaking your truth, openly and unapologetically, with compassion for others
- Trusting your gut and believing in yourself
- Doing all of this while not being an asshole!
On the surface, this advice may sound selfish or insensitive. Obnoxious, even. But I’m not suggesting you do any of this at the expense of others. There’s a balance between remaining bold and true, while still being considerate of others, and it starts with self-acceptance (however you get there). The Dalai Lama teaches that without compassion for ourselves, we are incapable of developing compassion for others, and as a formerly-blocked autoimmune warrior, I can attest to this. It takes practice and patience to master being bold, but it is definitely worth it.