This is the face of Crohn's disease.
But you already knew that.
I am in the middle of a pretty nasty Crohn's flare right now so Crohn's and I aren't exactly on speaking terms at the moment. It's back on Entocort for me (a nasty bit of medicine that does clear up symptoms over time, but brings some menace of its own into life).
But I am not writing this to complain. I actually have a few good words to say about the disease that has wound its way into my life.
If you have known me much at all or for any period of time you know that in my life I could feel guilty about just about anything. You bring up a problem and I could come up with a way that somehow I made it worse or caused it or didn't help alleviate it or something. Josh used to call me The Queen of Guilty and he was right. I often wore other people's problems like some women wear shoes (oh how I love shoes).
When someone came to me with an issue or a struggle I had a tendency to sort of take it on and adopt it as my own. This is not healthy; I do not suggest it.
I am not a social person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do adore people. I really do. I just couldn't manage to figure out how to care about people without also worrying about their lives and their problems whether I could actually help fix them or not.
Well, when I first met Crohn's disease I quickly discovered that stress and worry are ENORMOUS triggers for my friendly neighborhood intestinal disorder. The more I fretted about something the more intense my symptoms became (and that is not just me, I have read case after case after case in which other Crohn's owners report the same thing). I am telling you there is a very direct connection and I paid for every moment of worry and stress that I allowed into my life those first months.
And so, I was forced to put a lid on the stressers in my life. I had to let things go that I would normally have batted around for days. I had to let concern be enough and not let it swell into worry. I had to shelf my need to manage everything and instead let life happen around me (and I mean both in and out of my home because there is plenty of stress hiding in the corners around here as well).
Recently I have been in the throes of what would normally have been a very stressful situation for me. I have a friend who is struggling in her marriage and wants me to mother her through her problems. She is a wonderful person and I love her, but I just can't do it. I cannot fix her life and I cannot let her become a weight on mine by trying to hide here rather than face her struggles.
The other night I mentioned to Josh some of her concerns. I said I felt bad for her but I knew I couldn't fix it and I hoped she could work things out. He smiled at me in an odd way. I asked about that and he said he was very pleased because for the first time he could remember I wasn't taking on the problem as though I needed to fix it. I was trying to be sympathetic but I was not trying to take on her issue or meddle in the middle of it.
That made me smile because he is so right. It is not that I don't care, but this is not my monkey (that's what Josh says...he was always telling me "Don't take her monkey! You have enough of your own."). I still love her and am concerned for her and will pray for her and try to be supportive, but it is a beautiful thing not to feel burdened by something that has nothing to do with me.
What an important lesson Crohn's disease has brought to me. I do wish I had managed to learn it without the malady, but I guess that was not in the cards for me. Even in the throes of something that is ugly and foul there is often a hidden gem if we let ourselves see it.
I'm not sure I can exactly say I am grateful for Crohn's disease, but I am grateful for the chance to learn and grow and continue to work at becoming something better than I am today.