I feel so much better.
Sometimes people say things like “Writing is therapeutic.” And while what I do here is surely no substitute for seeing a licensed professional who can hear me out and tell me what’s up, writing that post last week was a bit like eating a really huge, leafy salad — or maybe tons of corn — for lunch every day, feeling sick from it, finally vomiting it everywhere or getting it out of your body some other way, or maybe both ways at the same time (what? that’s never happened to me…), and then spending the following hours in really rough, sweaty shape. But then, once you’re sure the salad is all out of your system, you feel good to go.
And then you punch yourself in the face for that run-on sentence. Yowza!
Leave me alone.
But the salad is like a wake-up call. Stop eating salad! You don’t tolerate it well!
“It’s a metaphor, Daddy!” Name that show.
So no, I am probably not really “good to go,” not fully yet. I’m still working through a few things — thanks, by the way, for some of the wonderful comments and suggestions on that post, which I swear was not supposed to come off as slightly hysterical as I guess it did — but in the past week I’ve sought and found a great deal of clarity in my little life.
I think the biggest thing I lost sight of was the one thing — the mentality and the outlook — that kept me sane for the 20 years I’ve had this disease. I can’t fully control my chronic illness, but I can control how I react to it and I can try to maintain perspective even through the dark days.
I let the dark days take over for a while, and I think that’s justified. It’s been a year of feeling sick, and that’s a long time for a girl who likes to be active and play and go to work and run marathons sometimes.
I gave up emotionally, and I was cognizant of it but chose not to do anything about it. I was exhausted. And I just didn’t care.
Since writing that post last week, though, I spent some time thinking about the root of my feelings and generally doing some light soul searching.
My Thanksgiving holiday was spent in Pennsylvania with my dad’s whole side of the family. “Whole” meaning tons of Fellers (and Adairs and Feldmans because, you know, extended people) bopping around. We celebrated food and togetherness and love on Thursday…
…and we celebrated Grandmom’s 90th birthday on Friday.
We rented out an inn and I had a big room overlooking a big field with geese. I didn’t turn on my computer until Saturday when I had to check the bus schedule in order to get myself back to the city.
I spent a lot of time with my cousin’s puppy, Ranger, and a ton ton ton ton ton of time with my BFF Tyler.
I let myself relax.
I didn’t force myself to work out or run through the stomach pain or pre-burn any Thanksgiving calories. Though I did go for my first-ever run with my brother! We ran one mile together. He says it will “never happen again.” Ryan On The Run has already retired.
I ate well but didn’t over-stuff myself for once.
I decided to forgo sleeping in in favor of waking before the sun to snuggle with Tyler.
I had the best, most perfect Thanksgiving I could have imagined. I would have loved to not be sick and be in pain and be in the bathroom quite so much, but somehow that didn’t cross my mind a whole lot.
For the first time in as long as I can remember, I came back to New York at the end of the break feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and in a completely different mindset than when I left just a few days earlier.
I’ve felt like myself again these past few days — minus the running, because that’s on a bit of a hold right now — and it feels really good.
I’ve laughed and smiled and haven’t had unmitigated panic attacks over an unmade bed. I’m cleaning up my diet a bit and generally trying to take better care of myself, one day at a time.
I’m regaining my perspective, and I’m feeling a bit more like the Happy Ali who was around for a long time before this year. I missed her! I’m guessing you did, too, maybe? Because Sick Ali and Miserable Ali and Confused Ali aren’t so good with words and emotions and feelings and also all that Velveeta…
Oh, and I’m doing a bit of yoga. You should come with me sometime.
So we’ll see.
With or without Crohn’s disease, I’ll still have dark days.
I’ll probably still feel claustrophobic and a little lost sometimes. I think lots of us feel that way occasionally. Sometimes life is hard.
But as long as I can, in some tiny part of the very back of my brain, remember that “It’s going to be OK,” I think I’ll be just that…OK.
Thank you for sticking with me through these sort of weird and crazy times. It can be tough deciding when and how to write, and how much to share. My very natural instinct is to word vomit — not to be confused with corn vomit or salad vomit — all over the page and see what happens. So I realize that may make me come off as slightly unhinged and totally insane sometimes. Which maybe I am! Either way, thanks for being along for the ride and for chiming in to make me feel better or give me tough love. You are very special to me.