Whatever my illness has taken from me it has also given back to me, but it has taken 30 years for me to realise this. My illness is a part of who I am and it has greatly contributed to my life’s experiences. I travelled to New Zealand on a holiday and stayed, something I could never have done if I was healthy and married with children, and found a whole new career at the age of 40. I chose not to have children and my illness was a huge factor in this decision. I haven’t really missed out as I adore my nephews and nieces and have found myself motherly towards a few in the LBGTI community who were rejected by their own families.
Being alone and being lonely are two very different ways to be. I have become accustomed to my own company and strangely never felt lonely when alone, whereas I’ve felt very lonely twice in my life, both times while in a committed relationship. Living with someone who has a chronic illness is difficult and therefore I decided to sacrifice having a permanent relationship. I have a lover, and this is not a bad way to live. I have come to find myself choosing quality time over quantity time in romance as it has permanently kept my relationship in the honeymoon stage.
I am responsible for myself, only, and can be selfish with my time. I, luckily, choose how or with who to spend time (current health permitting). I can eat what I like when I like and can watch whatever I feel like on screen or lose myself on the Internet without the interference of someone demanding my attention. I can sleep whenever and however long I want or need. I can go on road trips at a moments notice without the need to ask or inform others (again, current health permitting). Spending a great deal of time with a body that is dysfunctional led me into dark, hard times and has had me evolve into someone without the need for others approval or disapproval. My body gives me enough to contend with. As long as someone doesn’t affect my life and how I live it I sincerely don’t care what is thought of me. This is a wonderful freedom.
My illness forced me to leave behind the memory of the healthy person I was before my illness and, after a period of grieving for losing the person I was, I was able to reestablish myself with a new identity. Of course, I would love a cure but I can’t say I wish I’d never had Crohn’s disease. It has given me experiences that have made life interesting, given me wonderful relationships with humans who I care for greatly, and a perspective on life that is a little bent but keeps me constantly amused. Life is to be lived as best as we can, as hard as it becomes, riding through the bad times and revelling when life is good. Enjoy the now and not fuss too much about tomorrow, for nothing lasts forever…good or bad.