When I was sick I cried almost every day. When friends and family attempted to console me they often offered up phrases like, "Everything happens for a reason." Unfortunately, that was one thing I hated hearing. I couldn't imagine at the time that there was any reason for someone to be in so much pain and feel so out of control in their own body. I couldn't wrap my head around the concept that there were things this disease could show me that I wouldn't learn about myself otherwise. I never thought that post-surgery I would be more confident with an ileostomy than I was when I didn't have one. These past few weeks, in particular, I've come to understand that the happiness I feel every day is the kind of happiness that can only be felt when one knows what it feels like to wake up every day and feel nothing but helplessness. If the past two years happened to ensure that I would wake up every day and value my health, my family, or my friends to the extent I now value all of those things, then I know there was a reason for all of the pain.
I cannot even express in words how full my life feels right now. It feels full because my relationships with my friends who stood by me have been strengthened. I feel in control, hopeful, and self-aware. I often reflect on the simple things like how great it feels to drive around in the spring weather and be in no rush to get home because I don't have anything restricting me. I think about how much joy something so stupid like walking around Target is, just because I know I couldn't do that before. I am a little surprised at how much joy these seemingly meaningless activities bring to my life. When I thought about how things would improve after surgery, I didn't imagine that driving in my car or grocery shopping would be a source of happiness.
Even though I am anxious about starting school and figuring out my life, I am still calm. Before surgery, my life was a checklist of medicines to try out and doctors appointments to attend. It left me wishing my days would pass quickly because I knew I'd be one day closer to learning the results of whatever diagnostic test I had endured or closer to knowing if I had finally found the right medicine to treat my illness. Now, I can appreciate those days when time crawls because my days are filled with activity.
It feels good to arrive at this place of peace and freedom. I think finding purpose in the last two years has been an important part of healing. In an effort to move forward, I can't just write off the past. I have to learn, grow, and make myself a better person because of it. I never imagined I would ever be able to reflect on my illness in a positive way but here I am, doing just that.
It just feels good to project positivity, to feel hope, to be happy, to find enjoyment in the little things, to learn something new about myself every day, and to be genuine in my belief that the best is yet to come.