Day 3 Prompt: Reach out to a friend or acquaintance who has been having a hard time, or perhaps a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time, just to say “hi, I’m thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing?”
I’m really liking these prompts/challenges from Charis’ blog. Doing them makes me think about what they mean and why they’re important.
When you have a chronic disease, being truly understood is very rare. It’s the difference between sympathy (feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune) and empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another). And I appreciate more than I can ever express everyone who has looked after me and done their best to understand. But just recently I’ve discovered how important community is.
I briefly wrote about this in my World IBD Day post, but I’ll reiterate here. I’ve been dealing with Crohn’s for more than 13 years. And during that time, I’ve never really had anybody I could talk to who was going through the same things. I never really talked about my Crohn’s. I wasn’t afraid to talk about it, I just didn’t usually bring it up. About a year ago I started talking about it more and saw a great outpouring of support.
But it really wasn’t until this surgery was staring me in the face that I started looking for someone who understood. When I actually able to accept the surgery was after I spoke with a wonderful woman who’d had her surgery nearly 20 years ago. She made me feel so much more comfortable with the decision. Your doctor can tell you over and over again that the procedure will help you, but it’s not until you have somebody who has lived it that you can really believe it.
Since then, I have started attending a monthly support group with the United Ostomy Association of America, tried to get more involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and found some others online who have walked in my shoes. It’s so encouraging seeing these beautiful women who are so strong and have continued living their lives in spite of IBD and I know that I can do it, too.
So I’ve realized not only how important these people are in my life, and it makes me want to be that person for others. I want more than anything to be able to share my experiences and show others that no matter what they’re dealing with, they’re going to be OK. And they can have an even more fulfilling life than they had before. To touch even one person’s life makes me think that all of this is worth it.