|Loved this cartoon. It is perfect.|
Before I started this healing journey, I was painfully, miserably sick for years. Long-term illness, especially illness without a name, tears away at all a person's best parts. The part where you experience gratitude, the part where you experience love, the part where you can devote yourself to caring for others, and most of all the part where you can be happy.
Gradually, almost imperceptibly, those parts are wiped away and ugly graffiti replaces them. Instead you fill up with hopelessness, resentment, and disregard for others. I felt awful all the time and my energy for kindness dwindled while the pain ate me up. To be perfectly honest, my brain couldn't really process the needs of others. It was taxed with processing what was happening to me internally.
I was also scared. Fear creates two responses in humans, fight or flight. Fighting requires anger. Flight requires closing yourself off as you flee. That is exactly what I did, but I in the middle of it, with my brain all muddled by gluten and suffering from malnutrition, I couldn't articulate it. I was just really angry while I fought to keep my body moving and really disconnected from the people I loved while I tried to run from the fear.
Three days into beginning AIP, my panic attacks stopped. The anxiety just evaporated. I was playful with my husband and daughter in a way I had not been for two or three years. I remember perfectly the moment I realized how unhappy I had been and how hard it was for my family. I was standing in the sunlight by the door to our backyard, geniunely enjoying the beautiful day. I was smiling and my daughter walked up to me and said, "Mommy, you seem happy." She said it with so much surprise and it was immediately echoed by my husband, "Yeah, honey, something is working." Suddenly, I was driven to keep up the work of healing. I wanted to be the gentle, happy woman they needed in their lives. I wanted to be that woman for me.
Ways I Am Nicer:
-I'm more kind. I think more about what other's are experiencing and I have the energy to offer kind words.
-I'm more content. This is not to say that every day I sigh while riding my unicorn through the clouds, but I am able to experience satisfaction in good moments in a way that I could not previously. Prolly 'cause I felt like dirt.
-I'm more appreciative. There is NOTHING, absolutely nothing, that will make you appreciate whatcha' got more than deprivation. I went through this alot while living in Africa and realizing all I had to be grateful for and now having gone from deeply ill to well on my way to ideal health, I feel even greater appreciation. Every time I have a set back . . . I'm more appreciative on the other side.
-I'm more caring. I feel genuine concern for the loved ones and friends in my life and as often as I can, I act on that now. Don't get me wrong, it isn't like I was a wicked witch before, but often I simply did not have enough energy left over to care for my loved ones as deeply as I wanted or they needed.
-I'm more happy. My days are not filled with how to fake my way through relentless weird symptoms (it is not awesome to act cool while your stomach feels like a giant wound, the middle of your face is numb, and you are having strange dizzy spells) or mantras focused on pain management. I can let myself take time for joy . . . and it shows. I laugh more and smile more.
Now, as I said, I firmly believe the nicer me is a direct result of the Paleo lifestyle. However, I also think that DOING certain positive acts creates more positive vibes. It isn't like AIP changed me into a heavenly angel who flies around on the fumes of goodness. I have to be active about being nice. So I challenge you, my readers to do one of the following acts each day for five days and report back in the comments. Let's see if it changes how you feel . . .
1) Do something kind. Was it a big act, a small act? How did it feel while you did it?
2) There is always something more to do or achieve. What one thing in your life is satisfying just as it is right now?
3) Take 15 minutes to reflect on something you appreciate. Did you feel better after you took the time to think on it?
4) Show how much you care for someone close to you. What did you do? What was the recipients reaction?
5) Do something that makes you happy. What was it and why did it bring you joy?