Growing up, my sister was tall, thin and beautiful. Her super-model good looks were sometimes a burden—she wasn’t always popular with jealous girls. Even so, I wanted to be her, though my body type barely resembled hers.
It turns out, our bodies had more in common than I realized as a child: my amazing sister was diagnosed with MS four years before I was. And ironically, after my diagnosis, I finally inherited her slim body. Woohoo! But wait, this wasn’t what I had in mind.
When I was a child, I believed that I could change the world with kindness and love. As an adult, I realized that wanting to be my sister stood in the way—you cannot change the world with love if you cannot love yourself. This really starts with loving ALL of you, including your body, imperfections and all.
I found the freedom to love my body soon after I was diagnosed with MS. At first, I kind of hated my body. It wasn’t listening to my signals, it had a mind of its own, and it constantly taunted me. It was unpredictable, and liked to keep me on—and off—my toes.
But I learned to stick up for myself early on. I don’t cave to people. If I did, I wouldn’t be where I am. My MS diagnosis wasn’t much different from the world I grew up in, needing to prove that I could do anything and everything. I don’t cave to MS. I thrive.
Love comes from within, whether I am limping or paralyzed completely. It can’t be stolen or broken, and my heart is always mine to give, no matter what this disease does to my body.
Loving yourself takes as much courage as changing the world. You have to jump in. Turn the lights on. Take a dare. Go to a naked spa. Let yourself run free!
My body is beautiful. It is complete and no matter what, it allows me to love. In the end, I can’t think of anything else that matters.