I’ll honest, this is a blog post I have been procrastinating to write for awhile now. Why? Because it’s a subject matter that is very personal. But two of my highest values are authenticity and vulnerability so if me sharing my story can convey some little piece of wisdom and help someone else in anyway, then hey! I’m all about it.
As you may know from reading my bio, I’ve had psoriasis several times in my life and each time it has come to teach me something different about the healing arts. Each time it would cover different areas of my body ranging from elbows and knees to covering 90% of my skin head to toe including my face. I’ve lost hair, confidence and even relationships because of it. But what I’ve gained has been a hell of a lot more important. Each time my autoimmune condition would resurface, it was an invitation to go deeper into my own healing and get to know myself – mind, body and spirit – a little bit more.
Like the proverbial onion, I moved through the different layers of fear, anxiety and false perceptions that kept me in patterns of behaviour that didn’t serve me or help me heal. They say you teach what you need to learn most, and in my case that was learning to love and truly heal myself.
Like many people I thought that self-love was all about bubble baths, pedicures and treating myself to things like new clothes or mac’n cheese because, hey, I deserve it. I’ve come to see the error of this way of thinking and that self-love is so much deeper than that.
It was at the end of my own strength that I learned what self-love is really all about. I hit rock bottom mentally, emotionally and physically and it was there that I surrendered and stopped trying to ‘improve myself’. Ironically when I gave up my relentless pursuit for clear skin I experienced the greatest healing.
Why? Because I stopped looking in the mirror and seeing that there was something wrong with me. Instead of chastising myself daily for not being perfect, I’ve learnt (and still continue to learn) to embrace myself just as I am.
I was at a pool party with some friends awhile ago and as you can imagine, being in a swimsuit when you have psoriasis all over your body takes some serious chutzpah. But there I was poolside with my friends and a bunch of strangers. I remember at one point running into an acquaintance and seeing his face as he suddenly looked at my skin. A look of utter disgust came over his face and then he realized that I saw his expression and quickly looked away. Though this sort of thing had happened to me before, it didn’t make it any easier and it immediately made me want to leave the party because of the shame that it triggered in me.
I talked with friend about it as I tried to rally my confidence. She said something that I will never forget. “But Maryska, you’re gorgeous with it. It’s part of your beauty.”
It reminded me of what my husband said to me once when I asked him if he thought my skin was ugly. “Of course not, it’s part of you and I love you. It’s like lace – that’s how I see it, it’s like lace.”
It’s funny how so much of my life I’d spent trying to ‘heal’ myself when those very attempts were actually furthering a sense of deep shame: The idea that there was something wrong with me and that I had to ‘get rid of’ my psoriasis because it was ugly and shameful. When really all along my illness was an invitation to embrace all parts of myself with love and compassion.
At one point I realized I had not considered the idea that my psoriasis was part of what made me, me. That it was lovable. That in fact, it was begging to be loved and accepted and told that it was enough. And it wasn’t just about my psoriasis. It was about all the ways I had rejected and shamed myself. The times I looked in the mirror and hated my legs, the times I would call myself fat, the times I told myself I wasn’t smart enough, attractive enough, or fit enough to be worthy of love. All the times I had put the needs and opinions of others first and betrayed my personal boundaries in order to find love and acceptance. My psoriasis was symbolic of all the ways I had rejected and attacked myself. All along I saw it as something to be fixed, to be covered up or rectified. When really it represented all the parts of myself that I had cast aside, divorced and rejected.
What was needed for my healing wasn’t yet another diet, supplement or detox regime. It wasn’t that I needed to try harder or do more. Instead, healing for me meant accepting the invitation to embrace all the parts of myself – exactly as I am.
What I know for sure is that healing is much deeper than skin deep. I’ve come to view my psoriasis as a gift – a roadmap back to my authentic self. Regardless of the status of my skin, whether clear or red and scaly – I am learning daily what it means to love and embrace all of parts of self. I am learning how to care for myself in ways that honour and respect my needs. I continue to learn to set healthy boundaries and say no to others so that I can say yes to myself. I am learning what it means to surrender the need for perfection in a world that would have me think otherwise.
This journey is why I am so passionate about what I do and what I offer to others though my work and this site. If anything I’ve said here resonates with you I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.