Monday, September 17, 2012

Dear God - thank you.

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that my motto-my mantra, what gets me through most things is the saying "everything happens for a reason". I've believed that for a long time. I've never had any horrible tragedy strike me - I haven't lost my husband to war. My children are happy and healthy. We lost our home in a hurricane, it was a horrible few days of uncertainty and living at a local elementary school that was serving as a Red Cross shelter. We ate from the fridges and freezers of the school, trying to use everything before it went bad. It was a character builder for sure - did it break me? No. Did it make me stronger? I don't know about that. It did make me appreciate the small stuff, bathing with water we had bottled up and baby wipes on the back porch - that will humble you real quick. Sleeping on the floor with your CHILD amongst throngs of other families - puts things in perspective. The "stuff" can be replaced, what is important cannot.

And that brings me to what has been weighing on me for most of last week. I think we all know that the road I have chosen with surgery hasn't been an easy one. I have been second guessing my "motto" and traded it in for something that I thought would prevent me from asking WHY. Silver lining. Always find the silver lining, even in my worst situations. And people say - "you have such a great attitude - always finding the good in the bad things." "I don't understand how you can be so positive in the middle of the shit storm life is throwing your way". I could go on, but you get the idea.

It is a natural progression of hiding my disease. I used to say "I'm fine" when really I was reeling with pain. "I'll be there!" even when I was SO exhausted from the 30 trips to the bathroom the previous day. "I can do it!" as I raised my hand to volunteer for something else, if I kept lying to everyone maybe my reality would change? No, no it didn't. And so here I am, using #silverlining as my new crutch for lack of a better metaphor. I find the silver lining in things because I don't want to be anyone's charity case. I don't want to wallow in my own pity. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. I find the silver lining because WHAT ELSE can I do to keep fighting? And then, it started to come to me.

The air started to clear about a week ago. The puzzle pieces started fitting together. All this STUFF was making sense to me. I have always heard that God has a plan, you may not know what it is at the time - but eventually it will show itself to you. Up until now, nothing ever shown itself to me. I never could see through the shit storm.

Last week, a friend shared with me something very personal. A battle that rages inside of her. I never knew, didn't have a clue - wasn't even on my radar. But she shared it with me, telling me it is something she doesn't talk about with anyone. But because of me - BECAUSE of what I have been doing in regards to my disease, she felt like she could finally say something. She isn't ready to shout it from the mountaintops, I don't know if it will ever be a topic of conversation for us again. I touched her. Something that I did made her feel like it was okay to share that part of her with me. Maybe someday she will be ready to share with more, and maybe someday she will even put it on a stage, or in a book or a blog to share with those who need to hear it.

These are some of the comments I have been getting from friends:

"So proud of you - you are so brave and strong, and have such an awesome outlook on life! xo"

" This is matter dear to my heart as well. You are always in our prayers. You're amazing woman!"

"I wish I would have gotten to know you better. By reading your posts on FB, I can tell you're a wonderful mother and wife, but more importantly, you're a SUPER STRONG, independent woman. Plus, you're hilarious! Your journey may not be easy, but you can overcome any obstacle girl! You will be a wonderful advocate for others walking in those same shoes!"

"Cheers to you my friend for being such a fighter and providing inspiration to so many in the way you deal with adversity. I wish you all the success and peace in your journey."

"You have certainly been through enough to last a lifetime. You are such the perfect person to represent and support. I think of you often and wonder just how you do it day after day and how you survived all that you have."

"SO PROUD OF YOU!!! xoxo"

Those people don't know that I spent the better part of a month (give or take) questioning WHY. WHY was this happening to me? WHY was this happening to my family? WHAT did I do to deserve THIS? Questioning God. Having what I can only describe as a complete and total mental breakdown, it all just became too much. I couldn't find the answer and my old "everything happens for a reason" wasn't quite cutting it. I was no fighter. I was not amazing. I wasn't inspiring anyone. I certainly was no one to be proud of. But, I scraped myself up off the bathroom floor and carried on- because what choice did I have? The REASON I had surgery was so I could be a mother and a wife - two things that Crohn's disease had robbed me of for too long. I wasn't going to let surgery pull a double whammy on me.

Wow - I've got a disjointed jumble of thoughts here. That'll happen when you just let your fingers go. What I am trying to say is - I get it. I understand the WHY. At least I think I do. I'm sure there is more that God is waiting to show me - but for now, this is what I am supposed to do. It is happening to me because I can handle it. I can take what is thrown at me and make it my own. I CAN share. I have to share. I am meant to teach, to educate those who don't know and to erase misconceptions. If I can get to just one person....anyone that is afraid to talk about something and show them it is OKAY. They are NOT alone, we are out here!! You don't have to buy a billboard and advertise. You don't even have to wear a shirt that says "ask me about my IBD"(though they are really cute). You just have to do what you can do for YOU - what makes YOU happy and feel fulfilled. For too long I was so busy doing things for others, to make others happy and make sure they were comfortable - I forgot to do that for myself.

So here I am. In your face. Telling it like it is. Letting it all hang out. Strutting with my front butt as a friend says (and put on a t-shirt!). The good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between.

Dear God - thank you. Thank you for giving me this challenge and helping me succeed. Thank you for putting amazing people in my life who help me be a better person each and every day. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. Thank you for not giving up on me when I doubted you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for showing me the plan you have for me - even if it is just a little snippet, you know what I need. Thank you for choosing me, because in choosing me you have kept those that I love safe. It's all so obvious now - I wouldn't wish this disease and what goes along with it on my worst enemy. I certainly wouldn't wish it on my best friend. But, you chose her to walk this road with me just like you chose all the other people out there who are speaking up and out. If I have to have someone on this journey with me - I'm glad it is my best friend.

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