This story is from a friend, Jamicia. She is a vibrant woman full of life and personality. After a few weeks of knowing her, she revealed that she was an amputee. She had been in a horrible incident where she lost her leg only a few years earlier and was so open and candid about this life-altering event as if it was just a typical bad day. She showed me her leg and opened her heart to me and we became friends. I never once saw her take pity on herself or others. She is an advocate for those referred to as disabled and her passion for life shines bright.
It’s been a few years since we’ve spoken due to routine life changes. When we reconnected we spoke of some of the highs and lows we’ve experienced during the years missed. But, the most intriguing portion of our conversation was that the girl I thought I had known was only a fraction of the woman unfolding.
During this period of quarantine, many are feeling alone and missing those human connections we have become so accustomed to. But imagine having felt the pressure to always show up for those around you, so much so, that this period of isolation gives you a sense of relief. A moment of self-reflection and time to regain self-love. This is Jamicia.
Here’s a piece of her journey.
What is the most challenging thing that you have been through or are going through right now?
Answer: The easiest or most obvious answer would be about my leg, but that did not affect me as much as it affected those around me. The night I lost my leg I knew it was gone before I made it to the hospital, I looked at my leg and accepted that fate. At that point it was about surviving. Leg or no leg. Everybody around me was super bummed out about me losing my leg as if it would devalue me in some way.
I was able to move through the experience by just being a constant reminder of its not what you lost in the situation, but what you walked away with. It’s affected my relationships with the people around me in various ways ranging from them feeling pity for me, to everybody taking the extra care and concern to learn about amputees and the issues we go through. I think the biggest effect that this has had on my relationships is that it allows people to see my drive, determination, and faith and draw from that when needed.
Today, my challenge is working on focusing on me. I’ve been known as this bubbly, positive person around others but I don’t feel that way inside. It’s so easy for me to light up a room for others but not for myself. [After giving this positive persona to others], I would then go home and talk down to myself. It’s this internal battle of showing up for others and not for myself.
When did you realize this about yourself?
Answer: I think I’ve always been like this. I assume I have to always show up for everyone. I’m a people pleaser. No one has ever requested [me to be their cheerleader] but I assume I have to show up like that. I feel if I can’t be that person for them then I don’t want to show up at all.
What made you decide you needed to change?
Answer: One day I was in a store and someone smiled at me [in passing]. It was really hard for me to smile back at her. I kept telling myself to try but I couldn’t do it. I realized that it was getting a lot harder for me to put on a happy face when that’s not how I feel inside.This is where the shift happened for me.
What would this change look like for you?
Answer: At this point in my life if feels like it’s either me or you. Self-preservation is number 1. If me being my best is not showing up all the time, then I’m not going to show up. I need to do what’s best for me first.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Answer: I would just say “No”. [I would no longer] show up for everyone when I don’t want to and stop trying so hard for other people. Or at least, just set boundaries. Unfortunately now, I don’t want to show up for things, and I am being looked at by others in a negative light.
What advice do you give yourself when you feel yourself reverting to old ways? Reverting back to the people pleaser.
Answer: I remind myself that, what I was doing in the past was not working for me. Although it’s easier to be that person that always comes through for others, I remember it has not served or benefitted me in a positive way.
What advice would you give to those who may be struggling with some of the same things?
Answer: Acknowledge the disconnect [of making others feel better when you are struggling yourself]. You must first say there is a problem before you can address it. Be gentle with yourself. [Change] is a process and will take time. There will be pain throughout the process, but the outcome will be a better you. I am 30 and that is 30 years of undoing. I feel like how can I tell someone to stop doing something when I’ve been living like this for 30 years, but don’t give up and don’t give in.
Here are some healthy affirmations: You are light. You are love. You are worthy. You are abundance. You are needed in this world.
What are some of the ways you are serving yourself?
Answer: I love to play in make-up. Looking pretty makes me feel good. I’ll do my make up and give myself a pep talk. I have recently been doing acrylic painting and just being creative makes me feel good. I meditate, do breathwork and practice mindfulness, as well as read Tarot cards.
What are your quarantine go-to’s to keep you occupied or give you a sense of normalcy? What is the first thing you are going to do when the world re-opens?
Answer: I actually like the vampire life. I like being inside, in a dark room, with blinds closed. It makes me feel at peace. Although I had a bad day today and going outside in the sun made me feel better. Quarantine life has been good for me. I have more time than I have ever had. I have been reading a lot of books and articles. I have been burning candles and playing board games and card games. (Phase 10 and Dos).
The first thing I want to do when the world re-opens is travel out of town to visit family. I have had a few family members pass away (not due to Covid-19) and I was not able to go to the funeral, so I would just like to visit family.
Favorite quote, scripture, or saying.
Answer: “Every journey begins with the first step.” ~ Lao Tzu. This was on a sign in the prosthetics room and I have it tattooed on myself.
If you find yourself relating to this interview or identify as being a people pleaser (hand raised) it can be very exhausting at times. Imagine having a bad day and putting on a face to go to work, or a family member or friend’s house, or even just taking someone’s “venting” phone call. It’s having to gather all of the energy from the few lit places within you to shine bright for those around you. Then, fast forward, you are at home by yourself drained of all your light and energy.
Here are a few additional self-care tips to help cope.
- Remember you always have a choice. You don’t have to say Yes. Set your boundaries and set your priorities.
- Say No with conviction. When you say No do not follow it up with any reasons or excuses. Saying No just because you want more time for yourself or because you want to protect your energy, is a great reason!
- Set a time limit. If you want to help out or give your time, give a time frame of availability. Don’t exhaust yourself. For example “I can come by but I’m only available from 9 AM to 11 AM.
- Use positive self-talk. Be your own cheerleader. Keep positive notes, cards, and awards of recognition and pull them out when you need a reminder. I write positive affirmations on sticky notes in my bathroom.
- Realize you can’t always make everyone happy. You will never be everything to everyone but you can always show up for yourself.
Don’t be fearful of making people upset or losing friends by putting yourself first, remember that those that truly love you will understand and support you just as you have for them. Do not spend your time explaining your worth to others. Those who know you, already know.
Please share this message with someone who may benefit from it today.