Autoimmunity and a Polite Decline

Today’s prompt is something about writing a letter to the part of yourself you like the least.  HA, I gigglesnorted, the hard part’s going to pick one, because, I kind of want everything to change–my temper, my social awkwardness/self-awareness, my voice, my opinionatedness, my cowing to my mother’s abusive behavior constantly, my procrastination…I mean, it’s a bounty of choices and I can’t serve my entire self with an eviction notice, can I?

Then it kind of hit me: I kind of have.

I have an autoimmune thyroid disorder that we know about. Yesterday, on top of that, though, I was in a rheumatologist’s office getting the orders for tests that will decide what other connective tissue autoimmune disease I have, because, like my flaws, autoimmune disorders tend to invite their friends to the party.

Autoimmune diseases are when your body decides YOU are the enemy. Normally, the immune system, as I understand it, finds something foreign–a virus, a bacterium, etc–and marshals the system–the white blood cells and all that, to fight it off through a host of techniques.  Your immune system is an army patrolling the borders of your body.  Autoimmune issues mean that your army is kind of in chaos–it recalls to me that last few lines of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”–“Where ignorant armies clash by night.” Your immune system is that nightblind army, striking out at everything.

Read as a metaphor, autoimmune is the ultimate in self-hatred–you yourself are the enemy. You yourself are the thing needing to be fought against, so your body fights against itself, leaving both parties of this non war depleted, a slow, almost ridiculous, death by attrition.

I think, instead of telling part of me to ship out, I’d like to bring it, and myself, back into a circle of compassion. I grew up in a kind of emotionally abusive household, and compassion, kindness, and support were entirely absent, so these are still, sadly, new to me. Maybe I’m afraid to kick things out, because, well at least it’s A THING, at least it’s something I have, a known quantity. But I’d like to think I’ve spent enough time and energy dividing myself into parts, and setting one against the other. Sorry, prompt, I can’t do this for you.

Shape Up or Ship Out


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