My Stoma Changed My Perception Of Normal And Perfection

Steve Perception Of Normal

Most of us have something that makes us feel ‘different’, different to the norm…. whatever that is. Whether that’s having a stoma or being gay or so on, but the thing is, normal is subjective. What I currently think of as normal is very different to what I thought was normal before my stoma.

All my life I have been driven to be successful. Since childhood I wanted to be the best, I wanted perfection. 

I didn’t want to be normal, I thought of normal as average… below perfect. So, what was perfection to me? In my eyes, it started with a sculptured muscular body, blemish free skin, legs like solid muscular tree trunks, a very handsome face, sharp haircut and beard… someone who makes lots of money, someone at the top of their game. Basically, I thought of perfection as being flawless in every way. I dreamed of both being this perfect man and having him as my partner, I admired those who achieved it and I strived for every day. 

I though the perfect man never had mental or physical issues, never showed emotion and always dominated, anything else was weak. No one wants to be weak or insecure, we don’t want to look bad, or feel sh*t about ourselves… I used to think of that as pathetic or sad. Years and years went by picking at my imperfections, hating parts of my body. There were even times where I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror, feeling that my body wasn’t perfect enough. My mind was the most dangerous and toxic influence – it would manipulate my personal perception turning all my faults into vicious self-sabotage. 

There is a fine line between healthy criticism of ourselves and self-sabotage, and we are all guilty of this to some extent. 

Being critical of ourselves in a constructive manner can help drive us, give us that necessary grit and make us more determined to succeed. However, tread over that fine line and it becomes incredibly unhealthy self-sabotage which produces self-loathing, and our insecurities become our downfall. I’d ask myself, “Will I ever be good enough?” 

Our journey through life affects our personal development, and a skill I learnt young was hyper-vigilance. I thought this was just emotional intelligence until recently when I learnt it’s actually a defensive mechanism of mine. It helps me to quickly read another person’s energy and helps me figure out how to respond to certain situations. Hyper-vigilance is both a blessing and a curse, my head never relaxes at times as it’s always on guard, reading through people to ensure I don’t get hurt. 

Other factors that contribute to our self-perception are relationships with the different people in our lives, and traumatic experiences can cause long-term psychological difficulties that can poison our thoughts. It’s possible that several small, but still traumatic situations can amalgamate together to cause low periods or depression and mental illness. 

For far too many years I spent most of my time kicking the crap out of myself, the experiences I’d been through were so challenging that at times I struggled to see the light.

Too much darkness created self-loathing, leaving very little self-worth. Clutching on to external validation, craving objectification to try and reassure myself I was as perfect as I could be. 

These issues would engulf me for many years, I would self-sabotage on so many different levels in every which way possible, the shame of who I was projecting out attracting the wrong people. In this situation you definitely attract like-minded people and my life was going nowhere. 

So, that’s the past, a colourful one to say the least. How would I move on leaving that Stephen behind? 

You know the phrase, “hitting rock bottom is the best thing that can happen to you”? Well I was about to find out just how true that is.

The day a freak accident left me fighting for my life, was a huge turning point. I was about to be transformed into this new Stephen - the person I am today, the one I am proud to be. Who knew that such life-changing circumstances would not only alter other people’s perception of me, but would also alter my own? I certainly didn’t expect that such a huge change would provide me with the tools to realise perfection doesn’t exist. What is perfect? What is normal? Nobody is perfect, nobody is normal. 

“There is a fine line between healthy criticism of ourselves and self-sabotage, and we are all guilty of this to some extent.” - @swfitnesslondon

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by Steve White

Steve White

About the author

Hey guys, I’m Steve - a Northern lad who moved to London to start a career as a Personal Trainer. An accident led to my temporary stoma and I had quite a traumatic time, but I'm doing what I can to help others. An important fact about me is that I am blessed to have the most adorable, loving cockapoo called Sally. Follow me on Twitter @SWfitnesslondon or find me on Instagram.

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