Hello, my lovely friend…Looking for a cozy little nook to settle into for a few moments?
Then, step into this warm inviting space where women feel empowered to love and care for themselves in every aspect of their lives. Today I’m delving into a topic that’s often overlooked and misunderstood and also very near and dear to me: MRKH.
Together, we’ll explore this important subject and learn how to nurture and thrive through it.
MRKH: An understanding of what it is
First, what is MRKH? Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) is a congenital condition that affects 1 in 5,000 women. It occurs when the vagina and uterus do not fully develop, causing difficulties with reproductive health and sexual functioning. For women living with MRKH, it can be a challenging and isolating experience that produces feelings of shame, inadequacy, and feeling misunderstood.
As a woman with MRKH, I know well that living with MRKH can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. That’s why it’s important to recognize that MRKH does not define your worth. Self-love and self-compassion are essential tools for those emotional challenges and to thrive in your life. Loving yourself first is key to thriving with MRKH and to living a rewarding and fulfilling life without it defining who you are or your value.
Together, let’s explore practical strategies to cultivate self-love and self-compassion, along with ways to overcome barriers to self-care to feel more empowered to prioritize yourself first So, let’s go!
The journey of MRKH from diagnosis to navigating life can feel devastating you experience feelings of shock, confusion, anger, and grief. These are just a few of the most common reactions. Long-term impact can lead to experiencing anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation or what I like to call, feeling like you’re alone on an island. It’s that feeling as though nobody around you understands. Infertility, body dysmorphia, and feeling “different” from other women or feeling “broken” are common issues that happen. All of these can lead to low self-esteem and shame around body image.
Body image and self-esteem are closely tied to how women view themselves and their sense of identity. Experiencing negative feelings towards your body, especially related to the absence or underdevelopment of your organs is a painful feeling where you may also feel a sense of inadequacy and a fear of being rejected by potential partners.
You may also struggle with self-esteem, as MRKH can impact your sense of femininity and sexuality, which is deeply personal and rooted in your sense of self. The feelings that arise are confusing and hurtful… such as feeling you’re missing out on experiences that other women may take for granted like menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth. Something like being asked for a tampon can be a brutal reminder of what you’re “missing” out on as it triggers feelings of inadequacy or lack of femininity and plays havoc on your self-esteem.
The Importance of Self-Love and Self-Compassion
Let’s face it, when you have MRKH, it’s a challenge to feel confident and positive about yourself. You may be struggling to figure out how to feel more confident. You may feel like your body has let you down, you may reject yourself or feel angry about your body, and it can be hard to accept that you have a condition that affects you sexually and reproductively. Here’s the thing that’s important to understand… these feelings are completely normal and valid. You’re not alone in feeling this way.
This is where self-love and self-compassion come in! Self-love is all about accepting yourself, flaws, and all. It’s all about treating yourself with, love, respect, understanding, and empathy. Self-compassion involves being kind and gentle with yourself, and not trying to change what’s happening or pretend it doesn’t exist, especially during difficult times, but really being there for yourself.
Self-love and self-compassion are crucial for everyone, but they are especially important for women with MRKH. By practicing self-love and self-compassion, you give yourself permission to be imperfect, to accept the parts of yourself that aren’t how you want them to be and you learn to appreciate yourself for who you are, just as you are, not just what you can do or what your body looks like.
When you have MRKH, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other women or feeling like you’re not enough. But the truth is, you are more than enough because you’re more than the MRKH diagnosis. You deserve to treat yourself with love and compassion and to see beyond those painful beliefs to your true essence. By doing this, you create a loving foundation of inner strength and resilience that can help you face any challenge that comes your way. And who doesn’t want that?
The Tools of Self-Love and Self-Compassion
One of the most powerful tools you can use is self-love and self-compassion. Instead of getting caught up in negative self-talk and feeling like you’re not enough because of your diagnosis practicing self-love and self-compassion can help you shift your mindset and focus on your strengths and worth as a whole person and not center on one aspect of yourself.
It’s not easy to come to terms with the fact that you may never be able to carry a child, or that you may need medical interventions to have a fulfilling sex life. That’s why self-love and self-compassion are so important. When you learn to love yourself wholeheartedly you can begin to accept and appreciate your body just as it is. You can focus on the things that your body can do, rather than what it can’t. And when you extend that same kindness and compassion to yourself, the healing of the emotional wounds of MRKH can begin.
Self-love, real meaningful self-love means accepting yourself from a whole mind, body, and soul perspective, even when you don’t feel perfect. It means recognizing your strengths as you face challenges. It means treating yourself with kindness, honesty, and respect, rather than letting your inner mean girl run the show with harsh criticism or judgment.
Self-compassion takes that self-love one step further. It means recognizing that we all make mistakes and have imperfections, that’s what makes us human. And guess what? It’s okay not to have it all together all the time. It means offering yourself the same kind of compassion and support that you offer to your friends, your family, and to people, you care about. Because you deserve it TOO.
In practicing self-love and self-compassion, you begin to let go of the shame and guilt that may be associated with how you feel about your body and your condition. You learn to see yourself as worthy and deserving of love, respect, and dignity….just as you are. And it’s a really great feeling to just look at you’re self and say…I’m pretty awesome.
Improve Your Mental Health
It’s no secret our mental health and well-being are closely tied to how we feel about ourselves. When you’re constantly criticizing and judging yourself, it takes a toll that makes it hard to feel happy, confident, or fulfilled. But learning to love and accept yourself opens the doorway to a whole new world of possibilities.
Self-love and self-compassion can help you feel more confident and self-assured, which leads to you being more willing to try new things and pursue your passions. You stop holding yourself back out of fear or self-doubt.
Self-love and self-compassion can also help you manage stress and anxiety. When you’re kind and compassionate to yourself you’re able to manage difficult emotions and cope with challenging situations, without spiraling into negative self-talk or thoughts.
And, self-love and self-compassion can help you build stronger, healthier relationships with yourself and others. Yay! How amazing is that? You become more open and accepting of yourself and others, which attracts positive, supportive people. The more compassionate you are to yourself, the more compassionate you are to others, which builds deeper, more meaningful connections.
Practicing Self-Love and Self-Compassion
Maybe by now you’re convinced of the importance of self-love and self-compassion for your mental health and well-being. But how do you actually go about practicing it? How do you cultivate a sense of love and kindness towards yourself, especially when you may have been conditioned to be critical or judgmental?
Here are a few ways to begin:
- Practice Self-Awareness: The first step in cultivating self-love and self-compassion is to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Notice when negative self-talk or self-criticism is running through your mind, and challenge those thoughts. Reframe it with factual thoughts that are kind and loving.
- Practice Self-Acceptance: Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like something that’s happened…or that you’re giving up. It means acknowledging and embracing your true self, all of you, even the flaws. Remember that imperfection is part of what makes us human it’s okay to not have everything figured out all the time.
- Practice Self-Forgiveness: We all make mistakes. Look at the mistake from the lens of how you can learn from it and forgive yourself and let it go. Holding onto guilt or shame is what keeps you stuck in the past.
- Practice Gratitude: Focusing on what’s currently happening or that you have right now that you’re grateful for. It helps shift your mindset from one of lack or scarcity to one of abundance and appreciation. A simple practice is to write down three things you’re grateful for each day. I like to do it at the start and end of the day.
- Practice Mindfulness: When you stay in the present, without judging yourself or others, and you do so purposely, you’re practicing mindfulness. When you practice awareness, you stay out of the past and the future.
A few final thoughts..
Self-love and Self-Compassion involve accepting and embracing yourself for who you are and acknowledging perceived flaws or differences as part of your unique make-up. It comes down to treating yourself with kindness, respect, and compassion and not accepting anything less than that. You allow yourself to be imperfect and appreciate the unique qualities that make you who you are. When you’re suffering or facing complex challenges, responding to yourself with compassion, care, and kindness is paramount.
Letting you in on a secret..
If you’ve been struggling with self-love and self-compassion, now is the time to prioritize these practices in your life. And I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s okay to take things one step at a time as progress is never linear and it’s meant to be slow so you can really nourish yourself and steep in the loving and connected relationship you’re creating with yourself.
Remember my lovely friend, self-love and self-compassion are not selfish practices. They are necessary. They are essential for your mental wellness and building resilience in the face of life’s challenges. So, let’s prioritize these practices and create a more compassionate and loving world for ourselves and others.
Shared with permission by Heather is a Compassion coach and we have been delighted to partner with for our Connect with Friends series (and it also helped inspire this post!) and we look forward to doing more together with her. Find out more about Heather and what she does here!