I recently found a blog, it's a tumbler feed, called the Internal Acceptance Movement or I AM. It's about accepting who you are, as you are. I did that in high school. I remember it as clear as yesterday, coming to the realization that what the "in" group thought of me didn't matter. I realized that I was just as pretty and fun as the popular girls. I accepted who I was and I loved myself. I thought I was still being true to that self, but I haven't been. Not since getting sick.
When I was told I had Crohn's I decided it wasn't going to win. I was still going to do whatever I wanted to do. I denied it, I ignore it, I fought it. I never accepted it. By not accepting Crohn's I'm not accepting myself. Crohn's is as much a part of this body as having brown hair, brown eyes and freckles is. It's time for me to be OK with that.
Having brown hair, brown eyes, and freckles, doesn't define who I am. It's my description that people would use if they were looking for me in a crowd. It's not who I am as a person. I'm the same person if I color my hair, wear colored contacts, and use foundation. Many people say that they will not let the (illness) define who they are as a person. To some extent I think this is true, you are not your illness. I am not Crohn's, but to say that it hasn't changed me would be a lie.
It hasn't changed me in a way people can see. Unlike the use of my physical characteristics I can't be found in a crowd by saying "I'm looking for someone that has Crohn's" then have someone else say "Yea, I see her, she's over there." A chronic illness, like many of lifes unseen pains, changes you emotionally, and I'm not just talking the inner ups and downs of dealing with a chronic illness.
In order to put this into words I need to go back in time a little. I remember walking from school with a friend, this is when I was in junior high. She was telling me how miserable her life was, how it has been bad her whole life, and telling me all these really bad things that have happened to her. Only to me what she had gone through, what she was going through seemed like a walk in the park. So her parents were divorcing, mine went through a physically violent divorce when I was five. That was hard, but I went through much harder challenges before I reached this point where I was listening to my friend complain about her life.
Even listening to her I didn't feel the need to say, my life has been worse. When I through about it at home later I remember thinking that many of my peers were holding up signs that said "this bad thing happened to me" but I never told people what happened to me. I realized by searching inside myself that I didn't need to.
I had already accepted it and believed that because of the things that I went through I was a stronger person. It happened to me, it was over, I was still alive, and I was stronger for making it through the pain. I still believe that. I believe that every painful thing we go through changes us. I believe that if we accept those painful things and learn from them we can come out the other end a stronger better person. I also believed that I was a stronger person then my friend was, because what I went through was so much worse then what she went through.
A chronic illness IS something that happens to you, it IS painful, it SHOULD change you. It does not define who you are, but it is something that can lead to who you will be
I believe life is a journey, using that I imagine my life as a road. It's a road with many intersections. Sometimes we choose to turn at a particular intersections but sometimes we are forced to take one that we would not have chosen. I believe that the roads we are forced to take are the ones that we are meant to learn the most from.
When I was 33 I was cruising down the highway of life when I was forced to take a detour at the exit marked Crohn's. It's not the way I would have chosen but it was the only way left to go so I had to take it. My road didn't end, I'm still on a journey but the only way I can reach my destination is by taking this road marked Crohn's. It's a hard road to drive and I have learned many new driving skills to navigate it. As I have driven this new road full of puddles I found a new sticker for my vehicle, and it's the biggest one yet. It reads "ACCEPTANCE" and it encompasses so much more then just the Crohn's.
I have a lot to tell you about this new road and that new sticker. I can tell you that not all of what I believed after talking to that long ago friend is what I believe still, but it's hard to tell. It's hard to take something you KNOW on the inside and place it outside of yourself. It's hard to find the words to tell it just right. So I need to leave for a while and think on it, but I will be back to tell you about the things I have found on this part of my journey. Until then think about your own journey and where it is leading you.