Rejection comes in many different forms throughout our lifetimes. A crush who doesn’t like us back; not being hired for a job we thought we were perfect for; or a friendship breakup. Another form of rejection we might not realize is body rejection.

People with autoimmune diseases experience their own bodies rejecting them daily, sometimes, multiple times a day. Here are just a few examples of the ways our bodies reject us:

  • Not tolerating most foods.
  • Flaring up after sitting in the sun. People with Lupus experience unusual sensitivity to sunlight which can cause flares, triggering symptoms such as joint pain, skin rashes, weakness, and fatigue.
  • Painsomia. Being unable to sleep for days due to the sheer pain you’re in is a special experience.
  • If you’re an athlete, not being able to perform on any given day due to chronic fatigue, inflammation, and muscle weakness.
  • Walking with a cane when you usually begin your day running.
  • Experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain just from walking around your house.
  • Not being able to grip things like water glasses and steering wheels due to arthritis in your hands.
  • Not being able to leave the house due to extreme brain fog and fatigue.

As much as we try to always keep a positive mindset, it is understandably difficult to trust our bodies when they reject us so often so we then in turn, start rejecting them back. This self-rejection manifests in different ways throughout our lives; rejecting our physical bodies, being hypersensitive to rejection in relationships, and rejecting our illness. I’ll speak from my own experiences of self-rejection in each of these manifestations.

1.Rejecting my physical body

One of my proudest accomplishments was transforming myself from somebody on their death bed to an OCR athlete. Having always lived an active lifestyle, a runner and soccer player back in my prime, the most depressing thing about going through years of a brutal flare up, was not being active, so having regained and enhanced that part of my life, is something I cherish so very dearly. Every morning, I start my day with a training session, so when I wake up with a fever, brain foggy, or in excruciating pain, I become enraged and decide to show my body who’s boss. I go to the gym and instead of following my scheduled training, I try to lift as heavy as possible, with as much intensity as possible, for as long as possible. These sometimes 3-hour training sessions send me into a flare up. Yes, I know better, but if my body is going to be a disaster anyway, I’d rather go out my way. I always regret doing that to myself. Instead of treating myself with care and understanding, I choose the easy way out, and go into self-destructive mode.

2. Rejection in relationships

Those of us that live with invisible illnesses tend to guard ourselves in relationships, terrified that they will leave if they see how bad our illness can get. This fear comes from watching people that “love” us walk away time and time again after seeing what our illness can mean. After my first rough night around my first boyfriend, he told me nobody would ever be with me because of how sick I get. My second boyfriend would disappear every time I flared up and reappeared when the flare up was over. This patterned continued for eights years until he ultimately left for good when I thought my diseases would take my life. I accepted this behavior because that’s what I’ve been taught growing up and that was my experience with relationships. Ultimately, I accepted this behavior because that’s what I thought I was worth. I went through every hard time in my life alone. Silent. Figured shit out on my own. It still manifests to this day. I HATE asking for help and I feel bad receiving it; always feeling like a burden on those who have offered. What I’ve learned, is that dating causes anxiety for anyone, but for me, once I start feeling rejection while dating, I immediately assume it’s because they found out I have multiple diseases since that’s my insecurity, and I try to justify how well I manage everything, how I don’t need anyone to take care of me blah blah blah…if you can relate to these thoughts, please remember that revealing yourself and standing in your truth does not make you weak. It makes you stronger than you already are. If you reveal yourself to someone and they leave, they did not deserve for you to shine your light on them for even a second. They were not meant for you. Hold your standards high; do not ever lower them because you don’t feel worthy. You are more than worthy and your illness does not define you.

3. Rejecting my Illness

Rejection is not always a bad thing. Rejection is sometimes, the universe’s way of saving us. For me, when I’m not feeling well for days on end, I look for things that make me smile. This could be buying myself flowers, watching my favorite movie, going to the gym, or going skydiving. Hear me out on the last one. I’m always in search of challenging myself while having as much fun as possible and a good adrenaline rush as it makes me feel alive and like I’m truly living! And when you’re in pain all day every day, there’s nothing better than being free of worry for even a second of the day. Skydiving provides me with an hour of freedom and at the end of the day, all I want is to be free. Free of this bodily pain. Free of such a regimented lifestyle. Going on a short adventure is the most positive way I reject myself. I’m rejecting the labels that society puts on me, the limitations doctors try to put on me, and the notion that my life must be limited. I’m rejecting that I have to live in fear; always staying close to home, close to my doctors in case something happens, and live a gentle and easy lifestyle, never pushing myself or exerting myself too much because of the unknown of what could happen to me on any given day.

No matter what anybody tells you, never give up on your goals and dreams. No matter what. Reject what the doctors and naysayers tell you and fight for your life. We are all dealt certain cards and we get to choose how we want to deal with them. I choose to fight to live a life I love every day. Every damn day. I fight for that life no matter what, until the end. To me, there is no other choice.

I challenge all of you to reject all of your perceived limitations and choose to fall in love with your life.