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Degenerative Disc Disease. Chronic Migraines. Fibromyalgia. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Tarlov Cyst Disease.

These diagnoses (and more) came into my life almost all at once, like a literal wrecking ball. I felt like I had been sentenced to a life of pain and misery. I was so angry. I felt like my body had betrayed me. All I could think about was how my life and happiness would be forever limited by chronic pain, fatigue and disease.

Pain has a way of bringing a person to a spiritual place. With my newfound spirituality, I began to wonder, “What did I do to manifest this illness in my body.” So now, instead of blaming my body, I was blaming myself. Here’s the thing though, blame and judgment are not spiritual.

When we are presented with life-altering circumstances, I think it may just be in our nature to look for someone or something to blame. Maybe it feels good to have somewhere to direct our anger or grief. I have come to believe though, that we all do the best we can with the resources we have available to us at the time. This means that if I had the knowledge, wisdom, skill or ability to do better, I would have. I did not set out to intentionally cause illness or pain in my body. Would I blame someone else for their illness? Of course not! So why should I be looking to blame myself?

By removing this need to place blame or find fault, I was able to focus on what my body was telling me. I realized that illness is our body’s way of asking for (or sometimes demanding) what it needs. How I got here no longer seemed all that important. My priority became taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My body was demanding that I engage in some serious self-love and care.

When I began engaging in self-love and self-care practices, I allowed for healing to begin. I realized thought patterns and behaviors that may have played a role in my ill health and started to let them go, one by one. One of the biggest things I needed to let go of was this overwhelming sense of responsibility that was ingrained in me and probably reinforced through my upbringing. It was like a security blanket. I felt like I had to work harder to “earn my keep,” not in a financial sense necessarily, but in life in general. Instead, I started to trust and believe in the statement, “I am enough.” I started believing that napping or sleeping when my body needs rest does not mean I am lazy. I started complaining less. I removed “I can’t” from my vocabulary. I stopped saying “I’m sorry” for things in which I had no real business apologizing. I stopped saying, “I suffer from migraines (or any other illness).” I started believing in my body’s innate ability to heal itself. I took time to meditate and to just breathe. I embraced an attitude of gratitude and even became grateful for the pain and illness affecting my body.

Healing is a process and a journey. Part of this process for me has been choosing not to reduce myself to a diagnosis (or several). While I am still very much affected by chronic migraines and other illnesses, that is not what defines me. There is so much more to ME and chronic pain and illness helped me to discover that.

My name is Tiffany. I am a mother of two beautiful little girls, an artist, and a self-healing “badass” (one of my mantras, story for another day). While everyone’s paths to healing are unique, it is my hope to inspire love, respect, and kindness that is directed inward.