Self-acceptance and authenticity

I’m a gluten-free baker. A cook. A gardener. A nutritionist. A kitty-momma. So many labels I enjoy, and my least favorite is someone who has had physical difficulties for over the past 7 years.

I’m very, very lucky that I can walk now, and my difficulty walking and standing doesn’t interfere that much with my day-to-day work. It DOES, however, get in the way of most of life. I can’t hike, which was my favorite thing. Forget the joy of dancing, or moving with ease. Travel is tremendously difficult. Ice and snow scare the bejeezus out of me. It’s hard, especially the nearly non-stop pain.

But of all those things, what hurts most is the shame I feel. I hate the carts at the grocery store. I hate the way people look at me when I have to be in a wheelchair. I hate the thought of someone “finding out” about my limitations. I hate my own judgments of myself, my body, my worth based on my ability to walk easily. I hate the fear I feel that I will fall and have a setback, as I did in October. But most of all, I hate the emotional cage that I’ve created out of fear, self-doubt and insecurity.

And, quite frankly, I’m frustrated. I talk to my clients about self-acceptance as it relates to weight, and there seems something rather ingenuine in promoting others to do what I haven’t yet. It’s not the same situation, of course, but the core remains constant. I can’t just pick and choose. I don’t think I can really accept some parts of myself while actively shutting out others, and authenticity matters to me.

It matters.


About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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14 Responses to Self-acceptance and authenticity

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    I think that before acceptance can take place one has to be aware of that it needs to take place…it’s such a process and it takes time. I struggle with it, too. And while my struggles are different than your my feelings are generally the same. I think it’s a part of being human.

    My experience has been that what I thought was my biggest weakness eventually turns into my greatest strength. I just have to be patient enough for it to happen.

    Much love,

  2. Cheryl, I know it took a lot to write this post. Bravo for you for being so bold and sharing this way! The truth is we all can guide others and yet not be perfect ourselves. We’re all works in progress. I think it’s important, too, to remember that we are not our illnesses, our weaknesses, etc. We are so much more! Despite our varying limitations and woes, we need to keep focusing on the good parts of ourselves to bring more of those out if possible. When someone looks at us questioningly or unfavorably, we can just smile our biggest smiles and go on about about our business. It’s not cliche to say that a smile really does change how we feel about ourselves. And feeling good just perpetuates feeling good. It doesn’t remove health challenges, but it can help us feel better about ourselves and deal with them better. Again, thank you for being willing to share this post, Cheryl. It will help many. It already has helped one.


  3. Thanks, Amy. I couldn’t agree more–most of my biggest challenges have brought the most joy in the long run.

    Thanks, Shirley! I agree that smiles are great medicine.

  4. Michelle says:

    Wow Cheryl! Thank you so much for being brave enough to share this with us. There is not much I can say that hasn’t already been said by Amy and Ricki. I feel for you and your physical struggles, particularly as I am currently going through my own rehabilitation for injuries and fear what this means for my own future. I applaud your strength. As hard as it is, try to remember that a label is just that, a label. It is not who you are. You said it yourself in the beginning, all of those things are a part of who you are and they work together to make you.

    I, for one, feel quite honoured to have found you and your blog.

  5. Sheri says:

    Been there. A website that really helped me back when I first went GF was ChronicBabe.

  6. Rs Mom says:

    Thank you. It seems many of struggle with similar fears, pain and discouragement. While I sometimes wish I could wave a magic wand and make all my troubles disappear, it is true that much of our growth comes as we journey through our trials. While I wouldn’t have requested my struggles and mourn for dreams that my never be, I also wouldn’t give up the growth, maturity and compassion I have gained. Thank you for your courage and example.

  7. Hi Cheryl – I had no idea you have faced physical difficulties and I am so sorry for the shame it has caused. I can relate to feelings of shame and reading your post was such a stark reminder that shame, as you put it so eloquently, is an emotional cage. And right there, your post helped me. So thank you for sharing your story. I so appreciate it, and I know many will.

    Hugs to you for your courage.

    And, on a lighter note, I am so glad you liked the spicy bean dip. The sweet potato gives it a nice texture without the addition of extra virgin olive oil or tahini or a nut or seed better – none of which really seem to work with black beans in terms of making a dip, hence my inspiration to try roasted sweet potatoes.

  8. Michelle,
    Thanks! I’m happy to have found you and my other blogging buddies, too.
    Health is such a funny thing, I never gave it a second thought until I started having issues. And while my medical issues are part of who I am, they’re just part, but I wouldn’t be who I am without them.
    Warm wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Looks like a neat site.

    Rs Mom: I totally agree that challenges are mixed blessings!

    Thank you for your sweet words! Part of what drives me to honesty is realizing how it has a ripple effect.

  9. Kim says:


    Wow…thanks for sharing that very personal side of you with all of us. You are an incredibly strong, independent woman. I think that many of us feel the same way. Acceptance is such a hard thing.

    Know that we are here for you, no matter what.

    Love you!


  10. Ricki says:

    Thanks so much for this. I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to write this post. While my issues are different, I have certainly experienced the same feelings about parts of myself that I may have kept private or about which I had negative emotions. I had no idea that you were struggling with such difficult physical issues, and it only makes me admire you more. I think you are a bright light in the blogging world and your clients are so very lucky to have you. I’m so glad that I found your blog and I love, love your positive attitude about your life and dealing with whatever life has thrown your way. Congratulations on the “coming out.” I know you’ve been an inspiration to me in the past, and I have no doubt you are to your clients, too. 🙂 Big hugs! xo

  11. Everybody has some level of fear and insecurity. I always try and remember the saying: “The greatest warrior is the one who conquers himself.” If you can learn to control your internal self dialogue and your perceptions of yourself and the outside world, then you have achieved greatness.

  12. This is such a heartfelt and meaningful post. Wish I knew more. Wish we could sit and have tea. Wish I could help. Wish, wish, wishing you the best. =)

  13. Ricki,
    Thanks so much. I know while situations are different, the feelings most people have about illness/struggles are similar.

    Thanks so much!

  14. A brave post and a brave lady. Your struggles and your honesty inspire me and your perspective makes you a great ally on the healing journey.

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