Welcome to my first recovery journey blog post. Each week I will be sharing my ups and downs and insights as I work through the Chrysalis Effect program. This week I write about some of the personality traits that can predispose someone to develop a chronic fatigue condition, and I discover how being an 'A'-Type personality has impacted my wellbeing and recovery.
"What do I write about?" I asked my friend, as I described my concerns about writing a regular blog feature for The Chrysalis Effect.
"Start where you are." She told me. "Yes, that's such good advice," I said.
"It's just that I have so many ideas, and none of them seem right, I really want it to be… Perfect." I sigh.
"Just imagine you're writing in your journal, it doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be you." She advised.
As we ended our conversation, I feel my body relax into an unfamiliar boost of confidence. 'Ok, I know how to journal', I think to myself. I've been doing it for over 30 years, I got my first diary when I was thirteen, and since then it's been; part therapy, part creativity. It has always been a way to process my thoughts and feelings, I find I heal and learn through telling my stories.
I was so honoured when asked to write for the chrysalis blog. I knew this was a fantastic community to be a part of, and by sharing what I'd discovered on my recovery journey, it could be helpful for others to know they were not alone.
However, as soon as I said 'Yes' to this opportunity to share my story with strangers,
my inner gremlins came out to play, taking over all my excitement and optimism and
turning it into overwhelm, fear and anxiety. I was three months into the
Chrysalis programme and in Phase four of my recovery process, which is 'The Internal
Search' phase. It was at this point I started getting curious about what is going on and
the underlying causes of the longterm fatigue and related symptoms that have kept me
back from fulfilling my dreams.
I knew I had to dig deep and ask myself the questions that would enable me to piece together where my anxiety was coming from. I needed to find out what was holding me back from putting myself in the spotlight again. I began by looking back at the last time I wrote for a website, this was about ten years ago before my illness, and before I'd had kids.
At that time I was an 'expert' in my field, I had worked hard to create a strong, credible business and 'personal brand' around my persona; confidence; drive and passion.
This was the first time I would be sharing myself, baring my soul, my imperfections to the public on the internet, where what I say cannot be hidden away or taken back. Would I really be able to be vulnerable? I knew the answer, YES!
At that moment I realised something, that was if the last ten years have taught me anything, it's about living an authentic life. I've learned if we don't let our true selves be seen, we will pay the price.
Finally I was feeling brave, and I was ready to finally 'Let go' of the person I thought I 'should' be and start loving who I was. This was not going to be easy. But, it is part of the work I need to do to discover what repeating habits, beliefs and behaviours that have kept me from fully recovering from my longterm fatigue-related condition.
I had until the Chrysalis Effect program assumed that in being an 'A' Type/perfectionist' I was just striving to do my very best, I was improving myself and my families lives… but I was so wrong. As I worked through the program, I began to learn all about the 'M.E profile'.
I discovered how the 'A' Type personality is a trait that is very common with people with chronic fatigue symptoms, in fact, people with these traits can be defined as having 'control or perfectionist issues, where they hold impossibly high expectations of themselves… and others.
This was a big 'Aha' for me, I suddenly realised for all this time, I had unconsciously been making decisions and behaving in ways that made me keep pushing myself to burn out. I learned there is a difference between healthy striving and perfectionism and that this trait I had admired was actually the cause of the chronic fatigue-related symptoms I'd been living with for many years.
I came across the term*Life Paralysis* in a book on the subject of perfectionism I had on my bookshelf (but had never got round to reading) the definition makes such sense.
Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we're too afraid to put anything out in the
world that could be imperfect. It's also all of the dreams that we don't follow because of our deep fear of failing,
making mistakes, and disappointing others. It's terrifying to risk when you're a perfectionist; your self-worth is
on the line. Brené Brown
These two words summed up how I'd been feeling about my writing and so many other activities I found
it hard to commit to.
Looking back I could see how many times I'd stopped myself from putting my 'true self' out into the
world, because of the lie I'd tell myself, mostly that I 'wasn't ready', or the work I had done wasn't 'good
enough yet' or 'what would people think!'
So the real reason for my fear of not having 'my story' published was because I was trying to protect myself from criticism, harsh judgement and or failure. I'd spent so much time running from my truth and putting so much effort in crafting how I'd be perceived and hiding behind a mask. I feared that I would be admitting that I had failed somehow, that I hadn't got it 'all figured out'.
The fact is we all will make mistakes, we all will be judged, and we all are guaranteed to fail. If we never show up without our masks on, then we never get to be really 'seen' for who we truly are, and this is the real failure.
Of course, it's not easy to let go of who you thought you were supposed to be, but I'm starting to let go, and own my story. I am learning to embrace my imperfections, one word, comma and full-stop at a time.
Thank you so much Dawn, for saying yes, being vunerable and being authentic, your words will resonate with so many. Can't wait for the next one!