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How Chronic Illness Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

My body was carried by a woman who when faced with adversity plants her feet and remains stable no matter the severity of the storm. It was made by a man with vigor, an insurmountable capacity to endure challenges, and the ingenuity to make a meal with a few forgotten pantry staples. Both have never cowered or run from anything — even each other — when at times they should have. Instead, they persevere, sometimes shaken, but nonetheless, moving forward.

My mom’s favorite saying is, “Chapter closed.” This is typically said when something traumatic has happened and we no longer want to discuss it. We instead begin the next chapter of our lives and hope for more. I’ve found myself saying “chapter closed” after a flare, or the failure of another medication. I’ve closed many chapters recently.

When I become frustrated with my body and its inability to withstand the normalcy of a full-time job, or its pain that leaves me reliant on a cane, I come back to the things I’ve inherited from the people I love. I remind myself that I embody the same vigor and willingness to persevere. Though I am flawed, I do not run or cower, I plant my feet and endure the storm and remind myself that my body is a good place to be.

I will not have biological children. I wouldn’t want to pass along the pain that comes with owning a body of my particular genetic mutation. If at some point I do have a child, when they are faced with the inevitable obstacles of having a body and navigating the human condition, I hope to pass along that same vigor and willingness to preserve. Though it won’t be hereditary, it will be taught. I was never taught to love my body; for years, I found comfort in destroying it. I pushed myself to extremes, and I prided myself on

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