How I Found My Beauty In Pain

It’s one thing to feel beautiful but it’s another thing to feel beautiful and have that beauty stand for a cause.

Learning to love myself properly was one of my biggest life lessons.

That is only something you can do. Not a boyfriend, not a friend, not a doctor, self help book, not a medication, not a quote on a meme. Only you and sometimes it seems near impossible. Especially with belittling frienemies like depression and anxiety follow along with a life time of invisible pain. You have to reason with your mind and forgive yourself for everything you tell yourself you should be shamed of or what others shame you for.

Nothing teaches you no one is perfect like living with an autoimmune disease. Seriously, my own healthy cells hate each other and attack each other. I really am my own worst enemy.

Not even my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis can compare to accepting myself for me.

I accept I am the 1% and what nature did to my body. RA is not me. Disease teaches you a lot about yourself, like you are an individual yet we are all human and flawed in different ways. My journey through grief helped me find my beauty through my pain.

I’ve struggled with it since I can remember. I was suffering inside from a young age. Accepting that and not letting myself beat myself up for the mistakes I’ve made when younger before I knew how to control my emotions or seek help, before I knew how to really take care or love myself. Before I understood what I was even going through, why I was in so much pain, physically and mentally. I did not understand the aggression bottled up inside.

Peer Pressure To Be Everyone Else’s Idea of Perfection

I was interested in alternative modeling as a teen, I had some small success with it and I was able to tie in my love for music and fashion. A lot of my inspiration came from watching heavy metal music videos for hours as a youngster. The more I got into the music, the more it seemed to be accepted you must, as a girl, look a certain way, listen to certain bands and own certain records, otherwise you were a poser, try hard, you didn’t belong. The only time people really called me ugly or made fun of me, was in the very own subculture I was involved in.

I remember having others repost my photos to discuss how fat and ugly I was. I remember having my livejournal or other social media accounts hacked by peers, my profile was suddenly about how I was a fat whore, slut, I have aids and herpes, I should die, etc.. Those words might be 30 seconds of enjoyment for someone but they may last a lifetime for the one who receives them. Especially as a teenage girl.

While this was fun and games for others, it took time for them to do and they enjoyed it, those words lasted years, engraved in my photographic memory.

I remember turning to my mother, only to be told I deserved it. I did not deserve any of it.I was only a young girl, I was hurting. I deserved empowerment. Becoming a mother helped me recognize that. Every child does.

The more my depression and anger grew inside me, the more vulnerable I became to others comments. The more I lashed out towards others. I became angry. I hid behind a facade of being stronger than I really was, I put myself in denial and developed avoidance habits as they chipped away at my inner strength. I spent the next decade walking around broken with degenerating self worth and consistent daily thoughts of suicide.

I have seen this behavior repeat itself, in the same subculture. Scenes are nasty and people use social media now to hurt others.

Finding Beauty in Self Expression

In my midst of suffering I found my beauty through pain, I found my meaning. I can not take away my pain, doctors can’t fully take away my pain, nor can medications. I can learn to grow with my pain. I was given life, I am here, still. My life has adversity, I can ignore these challenges and fade away or I can embrace my suffering for the purpose of meaning.

My writing about my physical and mental pain has been rewarding for I’ve been able to come to terms with it and make sense of it all. It’s helped me become more self aware, organize all my thoughts and given me the opportunity to look deep into my soul, find the person I was confused about, why I was hurting and what was preventing me from thriving. I mourned not finding this in myself during my healthier years, I imagined all I could have done. I had so much inside me that was bottling up, I had to release my pain, even if no one else could see or understand it.

I have a choice. I will always have a choice. It’s what I do with that choice.

I decided to believe in myself. I decided to not live in so much pain, both physically and mentally. I can’t stop it all, but I can try to control some of it.

One of the first things people notice about me is my tattoos, while I may love them, some don’t. That is to each their own. My purpose for tattoos was so I could feel beautiful when so insecure. For years I was afraid to step in front of the camera because I let depression take over my life. I hated what I saw and how I felt inside. The healthy lifestyle I have adapted since my chronic illness diagnosis has helped me control my over eating and new love for the gym. I’ve grown proud of the way I look because I did this transformation while living with chronic illness. The transformation wasn’t just physically either. The life lessons chronic illness has taught me have made me wiser, more compassionate and understanding, more driven and taught me to fight for what matters.

Ever since I was a little girl I have admired tattoos, thought they were beautiful. I have wanted to be in a tattoo magazine. I’ve always thought they were silly and vain dreams, until I lived it.It’s one thing to feel beautiful but it’s another thing to feel beautiful and have that beauty stand for a cause. A massive thank you to Inked Magazine for printing my interview in their Inked For A Cause November 2018 issue. I’ve kind of always felt my appearance was meant for something, I am meant for something, I’ve found my niche.

Not only did my pain set me free from my insecurities but it brought out my inner beauty. I found the silver lining in my pain which lets me shine.

Published by Chronic Eileen

Rheumatoid arthritis advocate, writer and speaker.