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Broken Bodies, Beautiful Imperfection

“Implicit in the experience of being disabled and living with chronic illness is the inference from society that you are broken.” –Karolyn Gehrig, #Hospitalglam

We don’t hear this just from society, but from ourselves. I constantly see people with chronic illness refer to themselves as broken. I used to do so myself until I realized how I was limiting myself with this rigid view. My body doesn’t work like I want it to, nor does it work like the bodies of the healthy people I know. But it works. I can breathe and walk and laugh. A body that can do those things is amazing, no matter what its limitations are.

It’s hard to not hate illness, but that often extends to hating the body where the illness resides. This obscures how truly incredible these bodies are. Their tremendous strength carries us through pain and illness, they allow us to awake to each new day. Our bodies are imperfect, but they also achieve astonishing feats every day. This is cause for celebration, not denigration.

#Hospitalglam, which is dedicated to “taking the shame out of being in treatment one selfie at a time,” and #Hospitalglam Shows Body-Positive Campaigns Work for Chronic Sickness Too have similar messages. As Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, “As long as you’re breathing, there’s more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or hopeless you may feel.” I scoffed the first time I read those words, but now I can see their abiding truth. When I stopped seeing my body as broken, I could begin to recognize all the amazing things it does. I began to love its beautiful imperfection.

2 Responses to Broken Bodies, Beautiful Imperfection

  1. J Hattori says:

    Kerrie
    What I have learned about chronic illness is that this is my karma for the time being and probably for the rest of my life. I have had chronic illnesses for the last 40 years since the age of 26 and it has been difficult. However, being a Buddhist like yourself I believe in karma and the power to overcome this unfortunate karma of mine. I am probably expiating a past karma and in a future life or even in this life my karma will surely change. We must not hate our bodies because they give us pain. Just think of the pain free days you will have once this episode has past and it will pass. I am grateful to this body but also I will be grateful once I have another body in another lifetime that is less painful. I am sure you feel this way some times. Thanks for your wonderful words of wisdom and for doing so much research on headaches. I don’t have to do the research now.

    • Julia, you’re so kind. I’m glad you’ve found some relief, even if it is spiritual/emotional rather than physical. Any kind of relief is good to me!

      Take care,
      Kerrie

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