A friend of mine just called me her hero today. People call me their hero often and I don’t really know how to respond.
I didn’t feel like a hero when I survived years of child abuse and ended up with PTSD.
I didn’t feel like a hero when I was raped for 4 hours after doing his cocaine all night.
I didn’t feel like a hero when I fucked up my life doing drugs and drinking so badly that I had to quit by the time I was 24.
I didn’t feel like a hero when I went to the mental hospital for the first time. Or the second time. And especially the third time.
I didn’t feel like a hero when I couldn’t care for my own child because I had such severe postpartum depression I had to go away.
I didn’t feel like a hero getting diagnosed with two more chronic illnesses this year.
And I really didn’t feel like a hero being bedridden for a month and having to borrow a wheelchair so I could go on our previously scheduled family Christmas trip.
But that’s the stuff a hero is made of I’m learning.
I’m learning how to pace myself. I have a certain amount of energy everyday and it is imperative I stop before I use up all of it.
I got this sick from decades of pushing myself beyond my limits – so he would love me, so they would approve of me, so she’d think I was cool.
Self-care is an interesting beast. I was taught to survive. My family members neglect themselves to the point of debilitation. This is where I come from.
My mom is on the self-care train with me now and it’s so cool. And it’s also never too late. It’s never to late to love yourself. Forgive yourself. Nurture yourself.
We children of abuse and alcoholism come into adulthood sideways. Boy do we know how to survive. But we have no idea how to live.
So now I’m a hero because I love myself. I always thought I’d be called a princess or weak or – the absolute worst – SELFISH.
It’s only taken me 4 years of postpartum depression and 6 chronic illnesses to finally learn to love myself. I hope it takes a hell of a lot less for you.
And guess what? Once I got in that wheelchair I actually did feel like a hero because I’m finally willing to wave the white flag when I’m down.
I love you. Now you go love you.