I spent the majority of my life as a people pleaser. From the time I was young, I equivocated “yes” with likability; please and be pleased. As the years passed, compromising my own needs became second to meeting those of others. While I genuinely enjoy being of service and helping others, I cannot help but feel an inadvertent resentment when it is done out of habit as opposed to genuine ambition. I found difficulty in separating obligation from desire. Saying “no” did not come naturally, and it certainly came with a heavy dose of self-imposed guilt.
This characteristic seemed to jibe well enough with my persona that I would only swat at it when it became annoying. I was swatting a lot.
My MS and subsequent progression acted as an autonomic sifter, only filtering through that which commanded my attention. All else became superfluous. Borne was an identity all my own.
Much like wearing a new pair of shoes, it took me a while to feel comfortable in my newfound self. I loved the shoes, I just needed to break them in. My diagnosis inadvertently liberated me from a habit I had frequently lamented. In its place, I learned how to take care of myself. Additionally, I nurtured those things I truly loved: writing, volunteering, and cultivating closer relationships with friends and family.
I love to give; my spirit is most effervescent when I am doing. Understanding how to utilize my spiritual generosity to fulfill as opposed to deplete has been life-changing.
Evolution takes time, especially one dependant on an ever-changing disease like MS. As my health needs change, so too have my abilities and limitations. In kind, so too have my boundaries.
Although hastened by my health, creating and maintaining boundaries has increased my confidence and sense of self. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I like my values and beliefs, and while I respect and enjoy learning another’s, I feel no obligation to morph my own. As simplistic as that sounds, it has not always come so naturally.
Similarly, I am able to say “no” and feel at peace. I am in integrity knowing I give much of myself to those people and causes I care for. Taming my innate need to please everyone has allowed me to channel positive energy to those I choose. While I would like to do more, fatigue and pain limit that which I can accomplish.
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