I finally cleaned out my room last week. It was something that I had been putting off for a long time because I knew that going through all of my old things would remind me of a life I wanted to pretend never existed. I actually was amazed at how much I forgot. I also realize how much I clung to writing, even before I ever started blogging, as a way to expunge everything I was dealing with.
I have so many clothes in various shapes and sizes depending on my weight and the type of surgery I had. I must have had 30 pairs of jeans stacked in the corner of my room because I never wanted to throw anything away. My appearance seemed to change on a weekly basis and I always wanted to make sure I had something to wear. It was one of the hardest things about having ulcerative colitis as a teenager. I never felt or looked like me. I didn’t even know what that meant anymore. Looking in the mirror was so difficult for me because the person starring back at me was someone I could barely recognize.
One day I had a moon face, and was trying to hide the acne that was caused by being on mega doses of prednisone. The next I was pale and emaciated. Then I was “healthy” but would lose 10pounds because I was away and scared to eat. Then I would be home for a month, and feel the need to eat everything in sight since my body had been starved for so long. That, coupled with the fact that I had different clothing for when I had an ostomy as a teenager, then a Kpouch for years which allowed me to wear tighter clothing, made it so going through my clothes was the last thing I ever wanted to do.
I also came across so many old journals. It made me realize how much I actually went through on a day to day basis when I was so young. I would write constantly, almost non stop from the time I got home from school some days until I went to sleep. I pretty much documented entire days. It was nice to read in a way but mostly it was just upsetting that I felt the need to do so because my head and heart were enduring so much.
I also found a contract I wrote to my surgeon before my 7th major operation. I was astounded at the detail I went into; although not surprised. The terribleness of the hospital was one of the major things I think I had to block out because it was by far the worst part of having IBD for me. The feeling of helplessness and utter agony you feel as a patient was truly the most unbearable experience of my life. I think writing out my list of “demands” to my doctor before I stepped foot in that place made me feel like I had at least some control over what was going to happen.
It made me realize that I can write all I want about the hospital now, commiserate with close friends about the experience, but I don’t feel it anymore. I buried the trauma of it. Seeing the contract I wrote to my surgeon (and would revise it before every operation) made me realize why I eat the way I do and why I am as cautious with my body as I am.
I have a lot more to share on this topic. Cleaning out my room was cathartic to some degree but really did stir up a lot of my past; something I tried to forget existed. But I know rationally that no one can escape who they used to be. A lot of old pictures made me remember situations where I can’t believe I allowed certain things to happen or continue the way they did. Hindsight is of course 20/20 as they say but it still made me see that I am who I am because of everything I have been through.