I have gotten much more patient with my body, even as I've gotten stronger; I still have CFS crashes, and I've come to accept that and work with it rather than getting angry or depressed. I've learned to accept that I grow out of my clothes as time goes on, and I'll have to shop the big&talls soon. I've found things that my body does especially well all by itself, which I can appreciate and have a certain pride in.
I haven't managed to accept my looks, though. I'm hoping I'll gain ground on that as I continue to work on finding a gender presentation that makes me comfortable. It may involve top surgery, or other things to bring my reflection into line with my mental image... I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that I don't hate my body, or anything about it. It just isn't quite how I want it to be, but I can work with that.
I would say it's gone in stages. My health has not improved steadily, and there have been lots of setbacks and high points. First I was figuring out my limits, and sometimes what I found was devastating. I mourned a lot of goals and dreams, and made new ones, only to have them dashed the next time my health took a turn. Over time I became more modest with my dreams, and conscious of my limits. It meant that my world shrank a lot, but I was no longer battering against my cage. I turned inward.
I learned to listen to my body, to find out what made it worse or better, what to eat, when to stop. It was able to give me directions, and when I followed them, things stabilized. I found alternative treatments that made me stronger. When I started to get more ambitious again, such as going back to school, my body became a partner with voting rights; I wasn't always happy about that, and sometimes I pushed too hard, but I was always aware of its commentary. And I got used to falling down, and resting, and picking myself up. It got less scary, more routine.
By now I'm very selfish about my health, and I look out for my body's needs first. My career and lifestyle have been shaped around what I'm physically capable of, so they don't often come into conflict. I know that when I crash, I'll come back again in due course, I just have to wait. And I've simply given up on some things (like traveling the world) and focused on finding contentment with what's within my abilities. As a friend says, what you focus on is what your life becomes full of. I don't focus on my disability, I focus on what my body can do for me every day, and what pleasure that can bring me.
Maybe someday I'll be able to be as confident in my appearance as I am in my performance. I'm working on it.
I was talking with Akien after this, and mentioned that this is the reason I don't seek out the company of fellow CFSers anymore. I had to clarify that it's not a matter of lack of self-acceptance; I still do accept my disabilities. But being with a group of people where the only thing we have in common is a disability means that that commonality is what we all focus on. And I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about how I'm disabled, what I can't do, how I'm different. I'd rather focus on other things I can do, interesting things, ways of connecting on levels beyond the physical. That's where I want my attention and my energy to be, not on my physical struggles or the unhappy years I've left behind.I have an account as Torquill on Dreamwidth, and that's where I posted this. You can sign in with OpenID to comment on the original post, or you can go ahead and comment here; either way works.
I commented in response to a FB post about finding body-acceptance while disabled, then realized that it's probably the most articulate I've been about this subject in a long time.