For the past few days I have been thinking a lot about my ostomy, maybe because this particular time of year brings up so many memories. It’s crazy to think that at this time last year, I had an ostomy and was getting ready to have my second surgery done on December 6th. I remember telling myself, “just get to October, just get to October.”
Last October was the official launch of our online magazine, Companion Magazine for IBD as well. October is a good month. One of my favorite in the year. October of last year I was finally used to my ostomy and I came to the realization that helping others who are going through similar situations as mine was way better than sitting and moping about it. That is the smartest thought I have ever had.
I would like to re-visit the idea of vanity, just because whenever I think about my ostomy or even about my particular disease, that’s one of the first issues that comes to mind. When I found out I had to have my colon removed, the surgery didn’t scare me, the pain didn’t scare me, what scared me was the stigma that I knew was associated with having a digestive disease and also having an ostomy. A 24 year old girl with an ostomy is something that you don’t hear about everyday or very often at all. I knew what I thought about having an ostomy and automatically assuming that everyone felt the same was shallow and ignorant.
I am the biggest believer in everything happens for a reason. I believe that we are given challenges in life to teach us an important lesson that we may be missing. Looking back on how I acted when I found out I had to wear an ostomy makes me embarrassed. I was immature and extremely uneducated about how much life my ostomy was giving back to me. One of my faults is that I pay so much attention to small detail, that sometimes I forget to look at the big picture. There could be no better words to describe how I was feeling about an ostomy than that.
What would I wear, how would I cover it? People are going to think it’s disgusting, no one will understand. How am I going to do this? Those questions were the first to come to mind when I was given my surgery date. When the first thoughts SHOULD have been: I’m going to feel so much better, I’m getting my life back, this isn’t something I need to learn to live with forever, I have an amazing support system of family and friends.
I know that the fact that I had to have an ostomy would be shocking to anyone and I’m not knocking myself for getting upset about it. What I am knocking myself for is not understanding the bigger picture.
What I see now that I didn’t see then is that life is so incredibly precious, no matter how you look on the outside. On my long list of lessons that I’ve learned from my disease, it’s that you can try to be as beautiful and as attractive as you want on the outside, but if you are not reflecting the same on the inside, you might as well be as ugly as a Halloween witch (not the sexy kind).
When I meet people or can feel that someone is not a nice person on the inside, I immediately can feel their angst. It’s like my new perspective on life gives me a radar for those who do not treat the people they talk to or meet with respect. I will admit that before I was sick, I lived quite a judgmental life. I never had problems being social, having a lot of friends, being lucky enough to be asked out on dates and to be a normal, blonde girl that most people liked (I think, haha). I’ve always been a hard worker, a very driven individual who was also quite selfish.
Before all of this happened, I have never experienced real tragedy, real suffering. Whenever I talk to someone about a problem I may be having now, or a situation that feels worse than what it really is, I try to tell myself that I truly know what it is to suffer. What it is to feel pain and what it’s like to come close to losing my life. I have found that the best people I have met so far in my life are those who know the same. Now, I’m not wishing tragedy or illness upon anyone, but I feel that in the relationships I have now, both with my family and friends, I bring a new outlook to the table. I can now see a situation for what it is and try to make the best of it. I can say with certainty that being able to have that hindsight is the biggest blessing I have ever received.
Now on days where I’m not feeling my prettiest, or maybe my jeans are a little tight, or I’m under the weather and my skin tone is lighter and I have bags under my eyes, all small and seemingly stupid features that can make a girl feel unattractive, roll off my shoulders in a way I’ve never experienced before. My jeans are tight this week, so what? Last year at this time I couldn’t even wear jeans because instead I was wearing an ostomy that saved my life. So what if my skin is pale today, I just spoke with someone who lives across the world who told me that I helped put their mind at ease by sharing my hardships with them.
I love people who radiate beauty both inside and out. They’re my favorite kind of people. Those who will take the lessons they’ve learned about vanity personally and turn it into the most beautiful, life changing message that will undoubtedly help someones own opinion of themselves.
I’m fortunate enough to have met and worked with some of the most gorgeous people in this world. What makes them that gorgeous?
The fact that they not only know what it is to suffer, but they know how to suffer with so much grace that even through their darkest days, they will put their darkness behind giving another person light.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
That person for me is Gaylyn of Gutless and Glamorous (gutlessandglamorous.com), who not only is one of the most stunning girls I’ve ever seen physically, but her beauty runs so skin deep that it is in her blood. She is also the fashion editor for Companion Magazine.
Thank you for being my light and for always reminding me that inner beauty comes first.