Curled up, fetal position, I lie on the bathroom floor. My knees are pressed against my chest so tightly that I’m sure I’m breaking my ribs. The pain sweeps across me in waves, all at once stabbing, burning, clenching. Each time it subsides, the relief of being able to catch my breath again is pure bliss like I’ve never felt before. Just as my body starts to relax, though, another wave hits; this one, far more powerful than the last. I fight back tears. To give in to the tears feels like admitting weakness….acceptance of this life and its limitations.
I bet most of you had no idea that I have Crohns’ disease. You probably didn’t know that it was triggered by a car accident I was in – one that has left me with permanent muscle and joint pain and limitations. I don’t talk about it much. It’s not that it’s a big secret exactly…it’s just that it’s not the face of me that I want people to see and remember. And, well, then there’s the “ick” factor. People, understandably, don’t like to have conversations about bodily functions.
They don’t like to know that when I travel, I have to map out my route carefully, ensuring that I know where to find a bathroom at all times. This is me. This is my life.
They don’t want to know that sometimes I go without food for 2 or 3 days at a time because there is no way I can consume anything without getting violently ill. This is me. This is my life.
They would be shocked and horrified to know that there are times when I am out there, on the internet, being the social media manager, the ninja retweeter, Facebooking fanatic, and Queen of Pinterest (as I’ve been called by friends), all while sitting on the toilet. (Yep, I said it.) This is me. This is my life.
It’s so difficult for me to admit any of this. It’s embarrassing. It’s humbling. I don’t want you to see me as weak. I don’t want you to see me as sick. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.
What I want you to know is that even though I live with all of this and more, when you see me smiling and laughing, that’s not fake. That’s 100% genuine. These realities are only parts of my daily life, just like brushing my teeth, taking a shower, and combing my hair. Right here, right now, I am owning them but they aren’t what defines me. They are a part of what makes me strong, of what makes me a hard worker, of what makes me smile and laugh and appreciate every moment of every day. This is me. This is my life.