A Thanksgiving Post:
Two years ago, if you would have asked me what I would be thankful for today, I would have never in a million years thought that I’d be saying that the hell I endured during my last Ulcerative Colitis flare would top my list in 2014.
But that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m sitting here on an airplane flying back to Cincinnati from NYC, where, since my flare, one could say that I am living life abundantly.
If you’re new to my blog and don’t know my story, you can read about it here in depth, but here’s a short recap:
In 2012, while I was in the midst of a show in NYC, my Ulcerative Colitis reared its ugly head and I entered into a severe flare that would last 11 months.
I had to move home, and went to dozens of doctors. No pill, potion, or powder could kick me out of this flare. I tried everything from prescription drugs, natural medicines and remedies, faith healers, mega drugs – but my body rejected everything. The last option was surgery. So finally, after 8 months of frustration and misery, I decided to try to heal myself through diet. I adopted the Specific Carb Diet, and with the grace of God, I was healed of Ulcerative Colitis flare.
Back to the present, one would think that I am bitter about that year that derailed my life. That I’d resent the fact that I had to spend the year on bed rest, away from my friends, and coping with the excruciating pain from a flare and its complications.
However, two years out, I am filled with a sense of peace and serenity about the situation. And as Thanksgiving draws near, and I have 2 hours to kill on the plane, I’ve come to realize that these feelings I have towards that year are none other than gratefulness.
There is a grossly overused phrase that “you can’t get to the rainbow without the rain.” Other variations include, but are not limited to: “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” or “you don’t appreciate the light until you’ve been in the dark,“ or “if life gives you lemons….” Blah blah blah. But truth be told, these quips hold more weight than we like to admit.
Allow me to elaborate: there really are no words to describe the intense appreciation of life and joy and happiness, until you’ve truly been in a very dark place. Since my flare, my motto has become “always say yes.” ((I’ve discussed this with my friends, and with chuckles they always say, ‘don’t say that around boys’))…but come on, guys, where’s your mind. I mean that, I want to take advantage of everything life has to offer. I want to suck the nectar out of life and live it to the absolute fullest. That year taught me that life can literally change in the blink of an eye and everything you know can be taken away: so belly up to the bar and LIVE!!
Another aspect of that year that I am grateful for is that I learned how to truly take care of myself. As a 22-year-old woman, I learned exactly what my body needs to thrive. I learned that I am not invincible, and that I have to put my health first. For that, I am grateful. So many young twenty somethings exist on liquor, ramen, and pizza. My flare taught me that I, unfortunately, cannot live like that.
Lastly (there are many others, but this is getting lengthy, so I will end here), I will always cherish the time that I had at home with my family. Living at home as 22 year old, was a) humbling, but also, it allowed me to get to know my parents as an adult, which is very different from how I left for college at 18. Our relationship reached a whole new level, and I am so grateful for that time together. I got to spend time with my brothers and their wives. I was shown just how much our family pulls together when someone is in need. It strengthened the foundation that had been built since day one, only this time, as adults that are no longer fighting over the Nintendo 64, or controlling the remote.
My flare made me grow up. It made me into a woman that takes care of herself; a girl that has dwelled long enough in the dark that now appreciates the light with an intensity that rivals a scene from Cast Away.
But in closing, I want to offer this tidbit: sometimes, the painful experiences that we’ve closed off or bottled up and hidden away, deserve a second look. Sometimes, where we are today has been formed by the lessons we’ve learned from those experiences, whether we realize it or not. Maybe it takes an airplane ride with Thanksgiving looming to realize it, or maybe just the power of suggestion.
I wish you all a beautiful Thanksgiving. May we remember today all that we have been blessed with, and be grateful for it. And may we remember all those who are in need, of things either materially or emotionally.
Happy Thanksgiving, my Happy Tummies.