The enigmatic concept of Self Respect

Self Respect is defined as pride and confidence in oneself.
I’m so sad. Not depressed, no I don’t mean depressed. I mean sad. Like I don’t feel like I can possibly manage a smile. Like the slightest word would have be burst into tears. Sad. It started last week while I was applying for leave. Leave, mind you, that I have. Every few months I need a lot of tests done at the hospital – so I’m not out of pocket thousands. When I’m at the hospital, I’m on their timetable. I take my earphones, I sit in my designated seat and I just tune out until my little beeping disk goes off. It can take hours. It usually takes most of the day regardless of which hospital I go to. But that’s ok because I am being cared for and that care is free.
I, like many people with a chronic illness, am made to feel guilty about taking time off, to take care of myself. I’m going to be honest with you. Very little of my personal leave is because of illness – I come in feeling like death because as it’s recounted to me on such a regular basis, no one does my job when I’m not here (even though it’s an expectation that I pick up slack from other people). I take days off so I don’t end up taking weeks off from a crash. The tests are important – they help medical professionals adjust medication dosages to keep my Crohn’s in check and my liver from going into distress. They help pathologists spot early signs of cancer. They make sure I’m not taking a vitamin induced nose dive which can lead to seriously issues with my mental health.
I look like I’m functioning like the person next to me, but here is the reality. My insides are being pulled apart – right now even. While I’m writing this. My mouth stings from all the open, bleeding sores inside – all I can taste is blood… Regardless of what I eat – I feel like I’m being stabbed, every minute of every day. I can’t take proper pain relief for it because the reality is it will only make the pain 100 times worse. My joints. Oh my god, my joints. I still need to climb stairs and lug heavy boxes around – no ones sees but most of the time “I’m doing my job” I’m on constant verge of tears. I lay awake at night because of the unrelenting throbbing in my joints… It’s like this all the time. What I’m talking about is actually a good day. Yep, that’s right. That’s a good day. I’m not sure if I could really explain a bad day – but it usually includes diarrhea so bad you can’t leave the bathroom for hours on end… your legs cramp and your back… well. I’m sure you get the picture.
I have plenty of reasons to be sad – I know that. But no, Crohn’s doesn’t make me sad. The people around me – they make me sad. Putting in for leave on a Friday (because I tried to marry it in with other appointments so I didn’t need to take more than one day off)… what a cardinal sin. Shouldn’t I be taking annual leave? Because, you know, I’m not “actually” sick? Really? Is that HELPING? Here is the crux – I have the personal leave – I always run pretty close to the numbers because of my surgeries and recover times. But I ALWAYS have it or, yes, I do indeed take annual leave – an event may I add, which has only ever happened on one occasion.
After I applied for my leave and was made to feel like – well I don’t know. Pretty fucking bad. I looked at my wage. And without prompting or meaning too – tears welled up in my eyes. I shut the screen and walked out of the room making some lame excuse. Last year – even after disclosing my condition, I did a a wages test and comparison with two different employment agencies. One placed me at $80k, the other placed me between $80-90k and I fielded two offers that just came at the wrong time for me.
But hey, this isn’t me blowing my horn at my current employers, I’ve known the reality of my abilities for a while an done nothing about it – technically they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s me giving myself a kick up the butt. Because how little respect does it show for myself – that I stayed for 7 years of being underpaid (and what feels like, undervalued). In my previous post I wrote about not hating myself any more. And I don’t – I don’t hate myself. But respect myself… wow. No. I have absolutely no respect for myself. I’m sure the casual observer could even see that. I stopped doing my makeup for work… I stopped painting my nails… I stopped getting my hair done nicely… I stopped caring what I looked like. I mean, who cares, right? They certainly don’t – so why should I? And there my friends, is the problem. Not a little problem, a fucking huge, monumental problem. Coming to this realisation has made me examine my actions over the last 2 years. And yeah. Huston, we have a big fucking problem. I don’t respect myself and I don’t care about myself. When was the last time I had a bath? Lit candles? Just lay there and listened to music? Over two years ago. When was the last time I put a silly sheet mask on my face and took care of my skin? Over two years ago. When was the last time I cared enough about my fragile and sensitive skin to buy proper moisturiser? Over two years ago. When did I last paint my nails? Two years ago. When was the last time I even put concealer on to come to work in? Two years ago. For fuck sake. When was the last time I read a fucking book? …. two years ago.
How did this happen? How did I get this way? And how the FUCK do I get back to where I was? I know things need to change – but I also know that these things don’t work to MY timetable just because I’m having personal problems. So the big things will happen, when the big things happen the fact I’m totally committed to changing my life and getting some of that respect I used to have for myself back – well that’s a huge step. And I won’t stop until I make the change.
What about the little things? What about starting to respect myself again? How do I even start? I don’t know – but I’ve decided to make May – about me. As well as being Crohn’s and Colitis awareness month, May is going to be about who I am and how I see myself. I’m going to try and build respect for myself. I’m going to respect what I put into an onto my body more. I’m going to respect my personal space and time (and say “no” to more family things when I’m feeling overwhelmed). I’m going to respect my budget and not try to solve all my problems with food (just some of them).
I don’t expect to get it all right during May – but I am going to start. Just pick a point and start. Because looking back on things… that’s how I’ve alway got through. Not having all the answers at once – just figuring one little puzzle out at a time.

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