Recently, my fiancé twisted his ankle. A few days later, he hurt his leg. You know how I know? Because he could not stop talking about it. We went to Life Group with our church family and he talked about it there. I rolled my eyes because goodness gracious, it’s just a tweaked muscle. He limped down the stairs and after discussion, our group prayed for his leg and you know what I did? I stifled my laughter underneath the blanket. *cue bad fiancé award*
Now don’t get me wrong, I love him more than words could say. I’m sure some of you think I’m a heartless fiancé and others are laughing with me because let’s be real, we’ve all had a man in our life complain about something. (A man cold is somehow worse than a female cold, amirite?) I sympathize with him and realize that he was actually limping and did struggle getting around for a few days. But I still found myself comparing lemons. Confused? Read on.
I’ll be honest – I was bitter because HELLO!?! I deal with chronic pain, stomach pains that only get “less painful”, joint pain and swelling that comes and goes, and fatigue that never seems to goes away. And guys, I’m not even in a flare. I’m in remission but to be quite honest, my body still hates me. It’s only “less” bad, never “good”. I thought remission was this happy place full of HEALTH – but honestly, it’s just the absence of active disease and I still battle symptoms daily and occasionally, I get bitter.
But do I complain about it? Or talk about it at all? No.
It would be constant if I talked about it. Everyone would get sick of me if I talked about my daily bathroom habits (just being real), my ankles and knuckles swelling up if I eat the wrong thing, the fatigue that takes over my body at random times, the stomach pains that have me doubled over in seconds, the countless times I’ve
held crushed Kyle’s hand while lying on the ground in pain, and how I constantly think about how my next meal will impact me. My illness isn’t visible and many people don’t understand something that they can’t see. And to be honest, I don’t want to be “that” person who just constantly talks about miserable life is with a chronic illness. But here’s a truth bomb that many with invisible illnesses will not want to admit. One that I realized after this laughing incident with Kyle – those with invisible illnesses think we’re entitled to complaining because our problems are serious and that other people’s problems are somehow “lesser”. Guess what? While our problems are serious, we’re not entitled to complain. It’s time to accept the fact that this is the life we were handed and we have to make the most of it.
Let that sink in.
We were dealt a hand that didn’t meet our expectations and it’s not fair. But life isn’t fair. So complain for a minute, take a deep breath, and move on. There is GOOD in every day.
Is that harsh? Sure. I’m not saying to pretend everything is fine every single day. That would be lying. But truly, on my worst days, on the days I’m unsure if my UC will get better, I can always point towards the good. I can acknowledge the bad but focus on the good. I wasn’t always that way but when you’re engaged to a Marine who stays calm in every circumstance, you begin to realize that there really is good in every day.
I compared my lemons (UC) to my fiancé’s lemons (hurt leg, ankle) and felt entitled to complain about my $#!* because it was somehow worse. And that is so wrong. I hear it all the time from people with UC, Crohn’s, or other chronic illnesses – “They don’t know real pain”. Don’t get me wrong, there are several people with UC or Crohn’s (or other illnesses) that remain positive and DO share the good. I admire those people. I try to be that person all of the time but sometimes I feel entitled and think “Psh, get over it. Live one day in my shoes and then you won’t complain” And then I stop myself – why does it matter? Every single person is fighting their own battle. Everyone is dealt a different hand. And if they want to complain, let them. But YOU have the CHOICE every single day to be happy no matter the circumstances. I challenge you to write down three things you are thankful for every morning – and when you’re overwhelmed with negativity, acknowledge the pity party and then move on. You can still share your story, the bad, the ugly, but most importantly, share the good. I vow to always share the good when I can. I vow to not compare my story to someone else’s – let’s be real, my stories are honest, raw, funny, and intimate in their own way. For those that connect to my story, I promise to share more – but I won’t compare my story to another and you shouldn’t either.
So babe, I’m sorry for comparing. I’m sorry about your leg. Next time, I’ll lend a more compassionate ear and grab you the ice pack without being bitter. Lord knows you have listened to me complain about my UC and held my hand when my UC was terrible. You’ve force fed me Goldfish when I was on prednisone and didn’t want to eat but HAD to, you’ve made me bland chicken soup right after my diagnosis and held me while I ate small bites between sobs, you told me I didn’t have a moon face from the prednisone even though I knew you were lying (see picture below), you’ve laughed with me when my broken guts will not stop making noise at the most inappropriate times, and you’ve shown me how to find the good things in every day. More importantly, you’ve taught me to stop comparing lemons. You’ve taught me how to have a pity party and then move on. That’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned from you. Thank you, love.