The Gift of Perspective

This ‘ten year challenge’ social media trend has me reflecting.

There’s a lot of living and learning I went through over the past decade.

I finished university, survived my first heartbreak, started my teaching career, gained and lost important relationships, bought and sold two homes, navigated the shock of a miscarriage, found my way back to that guy who broke my heart, had a daughter with and married him, battled through the Autism diagnosis of my toddler and started on an unexpected journey of special needs parenting. 

Today, I found myself scrolling through old photos.

For me, the ten year challenge, these ‘then and now’ photos, play out like a reverse before and after transformation.

If past me was seeing what current me was looking at, I don’t think she’d even allow herself to entertain the thought that she could ever ‘let herself go’ like I have.

If I’m perfectly honest, I was in a pretty difficult place ten years ago.

That was the year my anxiety made the move from the back burner of my brain and took hold of my life entirely.

The thinner I became, the more in control I felt.

My priorities became warped and twisted as society showered me with compliments and praise over my new and improved physique.

My thinness seemed to mean to pretty much everyone I knew that I was experiencing success and happiness because of how great I looked.

In reality, it was a sign that I was finally breaking inside after years of keeping what I know now to be mental illness at bay. 

Was I healthy and happy ten years ago? No.

Am I healthy and happy today? No, I’m not there yet.

I don’t love and respect my body as much as I should, I’m not comfortable in my skin and I definitely need to start moving more to get myself into better shape.

I can’t keep up with my life as well as I’d like to. 

But thankfully, I was given the gift of a new perspective four years ago.

Being Mom to a child on the spectrum who is clueless about physical beauty has completely changed my lens of the world. 

It’s ironic. I spent most of my life consumed with the fear of not looking perfect, of not fitting in, and fate has me raising the epitome of a conventionally beautiful child, who by her nature has the unique ability to live life outside of the box.

To look like and be exactly who she is. To be free of the expectations of others.

There’s a few things I’m certain of, these days. I’m more self aware.

I’m learning to understand my behaviours and emotions and working at managing them better.

I’m making moves to figure out who I am instead of molding myself into who others think I should be.

I understand now that thin doesn’t equal happy, and that my value and successes in life are valid, regardless of the state of my body…I don’t have to look like I did ten years ago to be worthy. 

I know I am allowed to take whatever path I choose, whenever it feels right for me, to shed this shell that doesn’t quite feel like the true me and come into a body that fits me and my life perfectly. 

If it takes another decade to get there, so be it. I’m learning to be okay with that.

My daughter is showing me the way every single day.

Written by, Jill Kakoske

Jill Kakoske is a 31 year old mother to a 4 year old daughter who is diagnosed with Autism. She is also a wife and teacher with a passion for advocating and educating about Autism. Jill loves reading, spending time with family and writing about her experiences as a mother. 

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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