Yesterday was a challenging day… for the first time this year I had to leave classes at school early due to feeling unwell. I woke up today invigorated for a fresh start, a new day. I had my Headache Clinic today where I got another round of my Botox injections to help with my chronic migraines and headaches. I left with little blood dots from the injections, but relief to know hopefully the injections will help following two migraines this week.
Something my mom and I try to do after appointments or hard days is finding a way to lift our moods and highlight all of the goodness life has to offer. Being that we were already in Milwaukee, we decided to stroll around the mall. The first thing I saw upon walking in was a massive wall adorned with the motto I needed then so immensely: good vibes.
I tried to keep my chin up, trying to block out the insecurities I constantly hear in my head. I was proud of myself for not crying during the shopping adventure. It had been months since I have entered a mall to look for actual clothing for myself. As we entered our last store, Aerie, I looked around the store. All of the clothing was things I have loved and adored over the years. However, as I went through the battles that came, I began to stop admiring outfits.
My mom helped guide me through grabbing clothing items; trying to spark my interests and encourage me, being I was soaked in fear. After I entered the dressing room, I took my top off and I looked in the mirror. The tears could no longer be held in. I called my mom in and began sobbing… all of the thoughts I felt hit me:
There is a tube hanging out of my chest
I have a bag on my abdomen to collect my drainage from my intestine
My body has been covered in deep stretch marks- marks that even form if something tugs on my skin
The hair on my head that has changed and thinned
Steroid coated adrenal glands- leading to a round and full face with the double chin
The body shape that has changed from all the embarrassing weight gain from my body not working properly
Scars that lay themselves upon me- scattered like stars in the sky
I broke down saying how “I will never be the same again“
My mom hugged and held me. She reminded me that yes, I will never be the same again. But these trials and horrific battles have changed me to grow and become a more understanding and wise soul.
Drying my tears, I turned around to try and continue trying on things. However, when I gave myself the time to not be disgusted and terrified, and truly look in the mirror, I was humbled and amazed.
The mirror of the dressing room was covered in post-it-notes from other girls trying on clothing. The messages soothed the wounds my soul was feeling. Words of valuing yourself, loving your body, treasuring your strength… it was power from other girls and woman. Power I needed to feel in that moment more than ever.
Thank you Aerie. Thank you for creating an environment inside of a dressing room. Dressing rooms are normally the most vulnerable and dark place for me right now… more so than the operating table or hospital room I am so used to. Yet today, a dressing room became a safe haven and a place where I sat down for five minutes to stare at the beautiful words on the mirror.
It reminded me to thank my body… thank you for 19 years of life. For keeping me alive through the hardest times. For allowing me to continue to survive, fight, and thrive. The things I learned from going into Aerie today are things I want everyone to know. Our bodies are precious vessels that allow us to live. We must love and nurture them, like they do for us.
Thank you Aerie… thank you,