Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Being Alone

I love being alone. It happens less frequently these days than I'd like with a toddler and an otherwise busy life, but I crave alone time. I love complete silence - time to read a book or just sit and enjoy still. Being alone, however, is different than loneliness. Nobody likes that.

One of the hardest things about being sick is feeling lonely. I have people all around me who care about my well being, but I don't want to be a sick person. I fight against that persona by pretending I'm fine. People have been asking me how I'm feeling, and my stock answer is a pause followed by "I'm okay". I realize this doesn't make me sound like I'm okay. The thing is I am technically okay, but I'm still off. I'm still not myself, and I have some frustrating Crohn's symptoms (TMI for even me to share) with which I'm forced to deal. It's hard to pretend like everything is okay when it's mostly okay with a few discouraging exceptions.

I used to entirely pretend like everything was fine and bury all of my health challenges. Obviously I've gotten over that (hence all my blogging) because it's impossible to ignore. It's part of my journey. Even with that - with people knowing I've been in the hospital and sick - it's hard to really quantify how hard it can be. My husband is with me every day. He sees me at my absolute worst - both physically and emotionally. He deals with my Crohn's body image issues, my frustration with my limitations (the ones I'll actually admit I have) and the sheer point of exhaustion to which I push myself daily. Yet even though he knows me better than anyone I feel like he doesn't get it because how can he? While I write a blog proclaiming to the world that I'm dealing with some serious shit, I tend to internalize a lot of it as well. I pull away from family and friends and put my head down and push through because what's the alternative? Everyone is going to tell me to take it easy and rest and be kind to myself. That's all sound advice, but it doesn't ease the loneliness and disconnect that Crohn's can instill in me.

Last weekend I was at a party where I was talking to two phenomenal women. One is a cancer survivor. The other was talking about her body image issues (and for the record this is a woman with an adorable figure). I had this moment where I realized that we're all going through our own version of whatever life throws at us, and while at times I may feel lonely, I am not, in fact, alone. I was inspired by their stories and their struggles, and I had a moment where I realized I our challenges may be different, but we're all there in different ways. I've had so many people tell me they appreciate my sharing what I'm dealing with and they identify with it. It resonates with whatever challenge they've been dealt, and for that I'm grateful. If writing a blog (my own form of therapy) can help someone else feel less alone, then I've accomplished an important goal. 

As I'm getting over this Crohn's flare running is going very, very slowly. My frustration with my body not just cooperating as I'd like it to is off the charts, and I'm trying to keep a handle on it. The steroids have made my body puffy in a way that isn't entirely noticeable to the outside world, but it's acute to me. But much like my Crohn's induced loneliness it's a temporary situation. I'm running a 10k this weekend that I really have no business running, but I'm really just trying to jump start racing again. In the scheme of things it may seem like a small thing to get back into running, but it's part of who I am. I feel a little lost without my rigid exercise schedule, but I'm not physically ready to be back in it 100 percent.

I've been feeling less lonely with my health which I'm hoping is a sign that I'll soon be myself again. Tonight my husband is out of town, my son is asleep, and I am alone. It is quiet in my house save the hum of the dishwasher. I am blissfully, gloriously alone, but I am not lonely. I've got all the support I need.   
Relaxing alone on my porch. Heaven.

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