Authenticity: Its meaning & benefit

Authenticity may hurt you, but major parts of it are accountability and self-knowledge, both of which are vital to personal, individual healing. And contributing to healing beyond your own universe, too.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Paraphrased from Aristotle, this concept has been key, above all others, to my personal development. For me, it is not just about identifying what you do and why you do it, but also what you can do, as an individual, to strengthen positive behaviors and reduce negative ones. Self-knowledge is not armor; in fact, it is far from it. It is not a shield or a helmet. It is calcium to edify our bones. Its purpose is to grow and strengthen in that growth; to identify and take accountability; to have compassion and respect for ourselves and not enable our vices in pursuit of doing so. True self-knowledge is the first tool in countering stunting and regression. I read an article once claiming that “know thyself” is a dangerous maxim because it indicates some kind of permanence, or “being stuck.” The article implied that this could happen because if a person has identified their values and circumstances change that contend with those values, that person will refuse to adapt because it “feels unlike” their interpretation of themselves. That is not self-knowledge. Our values, circumstances, feelings, and ideas are impermanent. As human beings, we are the most adaptable animal in the world. We are nearly limitless and have evolved for ultimate survival, even in our clawless, fangless bodies. It then makes sense that the human mind, the most significant key to our advancement, is also the most significant to our downfall.

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“Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

I haven’t been hiding that the disease I am trying to manage right now (endometriosis) is both horrific and all-consuming and that I feel that is in fact quite literally killing me. I have had near-death experiences before and in April I did die for a time, or at least was closest to death than I ever was, being in a coma and consciously having to make the choice to stay alive. I didn’t choose to live because I felt I had to tie up loose ends. I chose to live because amindst all of the darkness, I was able to find hope that I could get effective treatment and live a life I wanted to live. That treatment is still far away even with the help I’ve been receiving and am very grateful for, and I may not get it before my insides are scarred beyond functioning or I develop serious heart problems[1] or cancer.[2] (That being said, I know I am being extremely annoying about this, but I am literally pleading for my life and trying to get the information out there to save others’ as well.) There are a lot of things I want to do and can’t, but I’m focused right now (and trying to stay focused) on what I can do.
Blogging has been helping me deal with this along with other issues, and I intend to start vlogging about endometriosis and my case specifically very soon. I will not let my suffering be meaningless when I have learned and experienced so much that can contribute to others getting help sooner.
Part of living the life I want to live is becoming who I want to be. I have many limitations right now of many varieties, but I can choose to continue working on myself, regardless of how little time I may or may not have left. Truthfully, I think that is the most honest motivation for this blog in particular. Helping others and advocacy are both integral to my soul’s survival, a huge part of who I want to become, and while this blog does not have a big reach and has probably not bettered anyone else’s life, it has helped me greatly, I have learned better to self-advocate, and so my entries here have bettered my own life, all of which have helped equip me with better skills and ability to reach out to others more effectively elsewhere.
Recovery is not a destination but a process.
This is, indeed, truly a recovery blog for me.
That being said, there are things I talk about here that I feel I need myself to embrace more fully. We are all hypocrites in one aspect of our lives or another, whether always or in certain instances, but hypocrisy is something I have been working very hard for years to get out of my system. I know it will never be 100% out. I am human. I am fallible. But I am human, which means I also have a great capacity to change and take charge of my own behavior.

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On body positivity & awareness

When someone ties their physical form to their integrity or character value, that is when they have an increased likelihood of intentionally harming their body, and devastatingly, society encourages this connection all the time. You can want to lose weight to improve your health – or gain weight to improve your health, build muscle to improve your health, etc. But when you do it in pursuit of becoming a person of “value” or increasing your worth as a human being, that is when you are really hurt inside, and you need to begin healing yourself.

I am 162 lbs now, when I was ~195 in mid-April. While to most people this sounds like a cause for celebration because society sees fat as so “unattractive” (and yes, unhealthy but that’s often secondary to the main message and for awful reasons), losing this much so soon is not healthy either, especially because of how I lost it – being unable to properly take in and digest food. I want to take this time to especially send my love to those with illnesses – of any kind, whether it be endometriosis, cancer, Chron’s, EDNOS, etc – who are overweight, lose weight then because of the illness they’re suffering from, only to then get congratulated on their weight loss when they actually feel like they are (or actually are) dying inside. It is devaluing, dehumanizing, and invalidating, and for those with eating disorders and associated thoughts and behaviors, those experiences significantly encourage the chance of related fatality. That being said, eating disorders have reportedly the highest fatality rate of any mental illness, and there are plenty of people who start out as “heavy” before literally overexercising, starving, or purging (including vomiting and/or excessive laxative use) themselves to death.

 

Note: Because of the tragic self-violence of disordered eating, I refuse to more “gracefully” word that.

 

While many people who have lost a great deal of weight are happy to have lost it, feel good about having lost it, and have lost it under medical supervision and/or through a healthy way, please always consider the possible ramifications of telling someone “Wow, you look so good after all that weight loss!” or tbh, commenting on people’s weights at all.

 

For me, today someone close to me commented in a way that was actually very considerate and was not at all hurtful to me (but validating instead). She had noticed the rapid weight loss and was concerned for me, knowing why it has been happening, and she treated it compassionately.

 

But I can’t tell you how many people have seen me in the past month and told me, “Wow, you look great now! Look at how much weight you’ve lost!” to which I must stifle a frustrated “I’ve lost weight because my body literally won’t allow me to eat and drink due to medical problems and I am so hungry and thirsty and miserable.”

 

The fact that I haven’t been able to leave the house much and so I haven’t seen many people is a true testament to how painfully common this response is.

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Finding strength in your “weakness”

Reducing the impact of a vice isn’t necessarily trying to eliminate it. We will probably always have at least a fraction of our childhood vices still in us. Instead, try to funnel it into something good, utilizing it differently to accentuate its potentially positive reciprocal.

Couldn’t sleep at all due to the endo pain but was able to fill eight pages in a random notebook with this before typing it up. Help me sleep. Please.

I have long maintained that many beautiful concepts have deep tragedies to them. I see, acknowledge, and appreciate the oft-ignored nooks and crannies of experience and of being, a strong witness to their darknesses, shadows, and the gems enveloped (or even later produced) by them. I’ve come to believe it’s part of the INFJ type, and perhaps among the reasons we are nicknamed “the Mystic” is because we are likelier to be privvy to the otherwise lost or forgotten gifts of deeper universal significance.

My personal outlook on this has taken a long time to develop. Aspect I share with others that I saw as valuable, beautiful, or forgiveable in them were not in myself. I couldn’t see my victories — small or big — as events or processes worth celebrating but congratulated others for things they themselves reportedly saw as minute gestures. Much of this stemmed from self-loathing, feelings of worthlessness and futility. I had higher expectations for myself than I had for those around me, marginally so. But I criticized my efforts, thoughts, feelings, and conduct in ways completely counterintuitive and ultimately counterproductive to growth. I was angry at myself for imagined attributes I didn’t really have or attributes I associated to others in completely inaccurate ways. I think it’s pretty normal for children and younger adolescents to make faulty connections like this. Normal but unhealthy and sadly, I’d say unhealthy habits, thought processes, self talk, etc are all extremely normal, even in adults.

Having C-PTSD and growing up with abuse from pretty much all directions however, I took those faulty connections to some pretty devastating extremes. (Trigger warning: Disordered thoughts – eating disorder + c-ptsd & casual descriptions of SI behaviors)

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All we hurt when we hurt / The universal language

There is an importance to healing I cannot stress enough. Because I was so affected by traumatic abuse so early in childhood, my life, identity, and behavior have all largely been shaped by pain. Truthfully, I challenge the notion that even human beings from seemingly tamer backgrounds are not shaped largely in part by pain. When going over these sentences, I thought a more accurate description might be to add pronouns to these sentences — add perhaps “my” and “their” before “pain,” but that would only distance myself from the ultimate point. There are many layers to this post as there are many layers to every person. Layers vary and appear different. They can manifest differently, speak in different tongues, dress in different threads, dance with different motions, and while sentient beings all hurt in different ways to different severities and we express those agonies in different behaviors, perhaps the greatest irony of all is that the most universal element sentient beings share is what often isolates us most — pain.

Physical pain or severe physical discomfort, at their most banal, tell us something is “wrong.” A bone is broken, and it needs to heal, or a part of our body is exposed that should not be exposed — in the case of extreme cold or extreme heat or a wound — or that not enough blood is getting to our heart or that not enough oxygen is getting to our brain. Prolonged inactivity can also cause physical pain or severe physical discomfort because that in itself tells the body something is wrong and can make things go wrong further within the body. People struggling with their mental health often get caught in this cycle, because already we’re usually struggling with debilitating stressors (and chemistry).

It is important to note that there are medical conditions in which people have a total insensitivity to pain, however rare, but even in cases of extreme dissociation or Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy and psychopathy) where emotional range can become limited, there is a current that makes us universally one, even if separating us in terms of our behavior or reactions to it: pain felt by the soul even if not always the body.

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Even if inspired by pain, inspire love – but always be inspired

Human beings are appalling and cruel and selfish and beautiful and flawed and complex and immature and I both hate and love that I love and value human beings so much. I can neither vilify or idolize, but I think the intensity of both my pain and love confuses others. Let me clarify this for you: When you are stalked — hunted as a wounded hare — a rabid dog at your heels and you hear their breath down your neck, you learn what a hungry, sick animal is capable of.

We may have our technological advances and our philosophical ideas, but we are still animals. We can be frightened, traumatized, sick, and weaponized too – and, moreover, as the human animal specifically, when frightened, traumatized, and/or sick, we have the unsurpassed ability to both consciously and subconsciously weaponize ourselves.

 

Sometimes, people seem very surprised by how moved I am by small acts of kindness. When I am vulnerable especially, I can often burst into tears at how moved I am. Reading articles on GoodNewsNetwork regularly evokes floods of “happy tears,” but also even in public, I’ve caught people off guard with sometimes perhaps too effusive of reactions towards small acts of kindness, even when not directed towards me.
Because while I am excruciatingly painfully aware of what people are capable of I am perhaps even more agonizingly aware of how much better people are capable of and yet are often uninspired to do.
That being said, I would like to end this post with a quote by Anne Frank, “How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.”