Your Internal World

Bunny Elizabeth Randleman Headshot

Pronouns: non binary and genderqueer, uses they/she/he pronouns (used interchangeably)

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“How are you, really?” I mean, yikes, just reading those words makes me horribly uncomfortable. It immediately turns my practiced, placid, expression into a knot in the middle of my face. I don’t usually like to talk about how I feel, unless I have something positive to share with the person who asked. I tend to feel guilty for burdening them with the weight of my circumstances. Secrets have kept me safe from rejection. A lot of people don’t know what to say when you tell them your illnesses will never go away. You have a broken leg? They can bring you flowers and a card- you’ll be better before you know it! Oh no, you have a cold? They can bring you soup and cover your shifts at the restaurant you both work at. But chronic pain and PTSD? They bring you pity and yoga DVDs, even though they know you can barely walk. Depression is not always palatable, to me or those around me, so I’ve learned to hide it- even when these secrets harm me. I’ve lost friends because my sickness was too much for them to watch. I’m an introvert but alone time has been more frequent than I need it to be. I’ve been evaluating what it means to be safe- and how to maintain that safety. 


I’m starting to let go of the coping mechanisms that no longer serve me. It’s hard to let go of the things that used to protect you, believe me, I know. These secret strategies are familiar and incredibly comfortable. They have watched over me when my illnesses rob and threaten me. Unhealthy coping mechanisms have been my allies for years, but what I really needed was a friend and a trauma-informed therapist. Years of neurological pathways can be difficult to unlearn, especially when you’re in need of a strong support system to help reinforce the healthy changes. 


But I believe in you and as a fellow member of the disabled community, I want what’s best for you both emotionally AND physically. You are worthy of care- whether you’ve been receiving it or not. I would like to apologize on behalf of those who have not loved you properly; you deserve the opportunity to express your emotions and to have your access needs met- these things are actually the bare minimum. You deserve to be loved above and beyond what you’ve received in the past. You are worthy of being visited when you’re not feeling well, especially if you’re sick all the time. We are leaving low standards behind us and raising the emotional bar. We are now accepting relationship applications from those who both love wholeheartedly and desire love in return. We are no longer pouring into cups that don’t want our living water- because we are WORTHY of care. Our emotions are beautiful tools that help us heal. Even the emotions that I tend to hide are exceedingly valuable, and those who love me best encourage me to share those feelings.  


Envy, fear, and frustration, are cues that I need more love and attention in certain areas. I’ve tried to suppress my anger even when justified, but my anger is what protects me- anger wants to help and it tells me that I deserve to be treated with dignity. Anger is a secondary emotion- beneath the fire of rage lies sadness, disappointment, or other primary emotions. When you can identify your emotions, whether evident or suppressed, it makes it easier to communicate them to loved ones and therapists. Identifying and naming these feelings is the first step to working through and with them. Sometimes I ignore or cover up what I’m feeling because I fear abandonment, but usually it’s because I fear the love I receive when I expose my heart in a safe place. When love is unfamiliar it can be distressing. We have seen a eugenicist society laid bare in the last few years, so neglect feels almost normal. But different doesn’t always mean dangerous- we need to receive love in order to survive, to flourish, and to love others well. We live in a world where a capitalist hustle culture dominates. The powers that be like us to push past our disabilities in order to keep businesses running. But I’ve found that vulnerability is strength. The armor of indifference is no longer my protector. 


I have to remind myself, but I now know that I am worthy of care, I am worthy of attention, and I deserve love in its fullest form. I cannot “I’m fine” my way into an early grave. As I grow, I can admit when I need rest and friendship, because capitalism does not determine the value of my personhood. So, how is your internal world? How are you, really?


We will continue diving into this topic in Part Two of “Your Internal World”- stay tuned for more as we discuss affirmations, body neutrality, burnout, and how to modify self care for your body. Our symptoms often fluctuate day-to-day so why can’t our self care rituals?. Eating two to three meals on a high symptom day is a huge achievement, just like exercising is a big deal on a low symptom day. You are allowed to listen to your body and to accommodate your needs as they shift and change. 


Bunny Elizabeth Randleman