I’m officially going in to the last week of my 8 week acne challenge, and while I’d love to say I found the magic bullet, I can’t lie. If there is one thing I know now more than ever, it’s that there’s no “one size fits all” fix. On the surface, my skin is slowly healing. I have a lot less irritation with new problem spots and there are far fewer now than I had 7 weeks ago. But this point the truth is, no matter how I feel about my skin when I look in the mirror, that’s not what really matters in this relationship. Superficial ups and downs will always come and go. True love — the euphoric, uplifting, heart-breaking, real love — is about showing up. Every day. No matter what. As cliche and obvious as this is, I’ve found the follow-through is especially hard when you’re learning how to be in a relationship with yourself. Have you ever lost an argument in your own mind? Playing both sides of the coin, the illusive balance of listening to and speaking from both sides of a relationship, this is the catch-22 that is now my love life.
Ellen and I have both been exploring a number of different therapies and rituals to better understand and share them with our Daughters #instafam and over the last 7 weeks in particular, we’ve really begun to recognize their impact on our lives. For me, the biggest realizations are not just that we’ve all lost touch with ourselves but that we all need to find what works for us individually to reconnect. Some people are naturally more intuitive and need to release trapped energy and feelings from the inside out. Others, like myself, fall more into the empathetic category. I feel emotions deeply, almost to a fault. I find myself constantly reading between the lines, watching people’s expressions and body language as they communicate to see how they’re feeling, observing interactions and consuming information to understand what’s motivating them and how they’re being affected by the environment and the people around them. I’m driven by information and see the value in collaboration.
Especially when living in a world where we’re told to keep our heads down, not ask questions, and fall in line with the status quo. Those things aren’t in my nature, but over the years I adapted. I put up a protective shell to contain my emotions, only asked questions if necessary, and over time — completely lost touch with who I am. And eventually, it got to the point where my body felt completely foreign to me, years of keeping things in had created a toxic weight in my body. Every new health issue felt like a personal attack on my happiness. But I wasn’t ready to accept that my health was failing because I was living in a toxic environment. My body was calling out for help, and when I ignored one problem it manifested into another — desperate to be heard and falling on deaf ears.
My relationship to my body has completely changed since then, but my renewed willingness to listen to my body doesn’t mean I always understand what I’m hearing. Overall, I feel much better than I did 7 weeks ago but I’ve had to put in a lot of time to make this relationship work.
I started by releasing toxic people and situations that were weighing me down. It sounds simple but this is the hardest thing I’ve had to accept. Then I created room in my life someone who really loves me, truly supports me, and shows up even on my bad days — me. I’m not gonna lie though, I’ve had a lot of bad days throughout this relationship. But as much as I hate sitting with that side of myself, I know the bad days are the ones that matter most.
I know perfect health doesn’t exist but if you learn to listen, your body is always telling you what it needs. To help with the bad days, I have committed to learning more about natural healing. In every relationship both sides have a unique love language that resonates with them. And this challenge has been my process for re-learning my body’s, so I better understand what I’m feeling.
In the next phase of shedding, I had to cut out unnecessary physical toxins (like Tylenol or cold meds), chemical cleaners, bath and body products to get clear on what symptoms were caused by my lifestyle and what my body is still lacking naturally. This process is ongoing, but channeling my inner Marie Kondo has already eliminated a lot of my health issues on it’s own. And now, if I feel a cold coming on, instead of popping a DayQuil to power through the day, now I look to natural herbs like Elderflower. It grows all over CA, has a ton of immune boosting properties, and Elderberries easily be made into a tasty syrup.
Comfrey Leafs grow naturally here, too. The roots can be finely chopped and mixed with hot water to create a paste that can be rubbed on your skin to help with joint pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also promotes cell regeneration, and works so well that some refer to it as “nature’s band aid.” I’ve even learned how to make Salves, natural “ointments” that can be mixed with herb infused oils. They are protective like oils, but stay on the skin longer and don’t come with all the unknown side-effects of pharmaceuticals and harsh chemicals.
A constant flow of speaking up when you need something, building trust so you feel heard and you know your feelings are valid, and accepting where you are right now — as you are. Masking the problems so I could power through the stress didn’t work for me. But acknowledging the things that make me feel bad has brought us closer together, because now at least I know when a new issue comes up in my body it means I’m not getting something I need. So I’m learning simultaneously to speak up for myself, and to be a better listener.
Yes, my skin is getting better though not as quickly as I’d hoped. But on the whole, I feel better and I have more energy, and I have more time to focus on the things that make me happy. I am enjoying my relationship more, too. My acne might not be gone yet but accepting the good with the bad is totally worth it.
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It’s been 6 weeks now since that dark, rainy night. I sat on the couch, curled up in my favorite soft blanket, watching tv and cuddling with my dog. It was a “Netflix & chill” kinda night. Just me, enjoying time with myself, and my dog.
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