have you ever been catching up with an old friend, a friend from way way back when, and they tell you a story that involves you, but one that you can’t remember? maybe their story paints you in an unfavorable light. they tell you about how you tricked them into something, how you scared them, or how unstable you were when your 6th grade boyfriend broke up with you to date the 7th grade girl who wasn’t just pretending to have boobs. you wonder if the tale they are sharing is okay to repeat, if you should accept it into your repertoire of “me stories”. and maybe you decide that their story isn’t okay, it doesn’t agree with your self image. then you wonder, what now? how do i reconcile this new information? does it change the person i am have become?
this may sound very self-involved, but as an adult, i have always wanted to meet the child version of me. i don’t have many memories of life before diabetes. i don’t remember what i cared about other than boys, basketball, and cheetos. i don’t have memories of how i played or what i felt. and i’ve been pondering this because i see the person i was as a child as somehow essential to my being. it’s as if my child self is a more purified version of the self i am today. less convoluted.
i used this notion to explore who i used to be and thus who i must be now, since who i was then is the truest reflection of who i am now. it got me into a lot of trouble.
according to this self exploration approach, i have uncovered the following aspects of my ‘nature’:
1. i was/am mean
2. i took/take advantage of my friends
3. i was/am boy crazy
4. i was/am annoying
5. i had less sugar my blood and now have more
6. i, by choice, spent/spend a lot of time with adults
7. i had/have a strong sense of justice
8. i liked/like to talk about myself
9. i was/am tricky and manipulative
10. i was/am a wuss
after asking family and friends about how i was as a kid, doing all this self evaluation and then coming to the conclusion that i didn’t like or admire the person i was/am, i decided that the “i was in my purest form back then’ approach wasn’t healthy for me. and i have been doing this for YEARS.
i decided that this approach of past-self exploration didn’t speak to who i am now.
what speaks to who i am now are the choices i have made to change the things i didn’t like about my own behavior before i knew they were happening.
what defines who i am is what i do with my visceral responses to various triggers.
what shows my true colors is how i cope with my own feelings.
……. okay, how does diabetes fit in?
well, like this. ……
if i can reposition my thoughts to see all the positive changes i have made in my own diabetes care, instead of focusing on the aspects of my ‘self’ that prevent me from managing well, then maybe i will find that managing is less burdensome.
maybe i will stop comparing the me i was before diabetes and the me i am now, with diabetes.
accepting that i am better with diabetes than without may change my overall disposition toward this disease, which would help me relocate my energy from subtle anger to compassion.
having compassion for myself, as i already know, will positively impact my self image, the way i treat myself, and thus how well i am able to cope with diabetes stresses.
since how i cope with my own feelings is a truer reflection of who i am now, then working on those coping strategies is where my first effort should be.
i can’t say that this is a thought i have had recently. it was been on my mind since i was a sophomore in college. i even developed and facilitated a course at cal called “global perspectives, methods of coping.”
i do however find myself reverting to my old approach all the time. it happened recently and it was like i had to do the emotional work all over again.
but i did it and it was worth it. again.
i guess my point here is that, making personal change doesn’t happen at once. habits are habits and adopting new methods is challenging. i want to tell you and the future me that wherever you are mentally is OKAY and NORMAL.
move onward, my friend, onward.