Reminding myself that I’m worthy of love, even with Friedreich’s ataxia

The negative impact of my disability makes receiving affection difficult for me

Kendall Harvey avatar

by Kendall Harvey |

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My love language has always been words of affirmation. When someone gives me a genuine compliment or a little bit of encouragement, it has the power to change my mood and affect my whole day. Niceties lighten my load and put a spring in my step!

On the other hand, negative talk is detrimental to my day. I have a toxic tendency to multiply and shroud myself with negativity to the point where it’s difficult to accomplish anything productive.

This is not to say that everything I do is in search of validation from others, just that kind words have the power to make me feel loved, valued, appreciated, and seen. I think the things people choose to write and say have a lot of meaning, and I’ve always been deeply affected by words. To quote “Harry Potter’s” Albus Dumbledore, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

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Love Is the Consistent Remedy for My Friedreich’s Ataxia Blues

Struggling to receive love

Yet lately, I’ve noticed that when people compliment me, I have a hard time accepting it. When someone says something kind about my looks, for example, I immediately dismiss it and think, “Yeah, right. You probably can’t even see me behind this awful, clunky walker.” I tend to think that compliments come from a place of obligation or pity. When my children compliment me, I think, “I’d be a much better mom if I weren’t battling my disabilities.”

Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) has had such a negative impact on my self-confidence, self-worth, and self-talk that I immediately put up defensive walls and dismiss anything positive. How sad is that? And more important, how can I remedy that?

FA didn’t take my love language dispositions into account before wreaking havoc on my life, but I have unintentionally given it total control over my ability to receive love. The truth is, I’m still worthy of giving and receiving love, even with FA. So I need to find a way to focus on turning down the volume of my negative self-esteem so that I’m open to receiving words of affirmation from others.

It’s no secret that the negative things in life are often louder and demand more attention than the positive ones, and FA is a very loud negative in my life. Although I’m used to being dependent on a walker, it’s still the first thing I see when I stroll past a mirror or see myself in a picture. I do eventually see past it, just as anyone would see past any “accessory,” so I shouldn’t have such a hard time believing that other people can see the person behind my walker.

To keep myself open to words of affirmation from others, I need to eliminate the loud, negative, constant loop of FA-centered self-talk I keep finding myself in. I need to remind myself that I’m more than my disability. I’m worthy of kindness. Pushing a walker, riding a mobility scooter, or getting assistance from others doesn’t negate all of what makes me who I am; it’s simply a facet of my reality.

Therefore, I’m making the choice to combat this negativity with the following affirmations:

  • There’s more to me than my disability.
  • I’ll be the best wife, mother, friend, and daughter I can be today.
  • God called me to this life, and he’ll equip me for it.
  • I can’t control what FA does to my body, but I can control my response to it.
  • Asking for help is a sign of self-respect, self-awareness, and strength.
  • I’m still learning, so it’s OK to make mistakes.
  • My disabilities don’t outweigh my abilities.
  • Today is an opportunity to grow and learn.
  • I’m worthy of good, beautiful, happy, and funny things.

“You are of great worth in My eyes. You are honored and I love you.” — Isaiah 43:4 (NLV)

Note: Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


Nathan Leier avatar

Nathan Leier

YES!!! - As a person effected by FA, this article hits all the right nerves and speaks the truth about our situations. I recently dated a girl, who I thought was way to pretty for me and so I thought that our conversations were her just being nice to me because I was in a wheelchair or I had a disability. But thankfully, she told me that she had a crush on me and liked me just the way I was!


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