I feel like I owe you an apology. I haven’t been completely honest with you, and my flowery, melancholy posts about how stuck I feel in my skin may have been alarming. I’m deciding to make some changes. This post is to help you understand why.
For as long as I can remember, I have had health problems. They were so integral to my identity, that for a long time, when I would meet someone, I would introduce myself by saying, “Hi my name is Carly and I have a disease.” Which I do.
I don’t remember a time before I got sick. I remember the onset of symptoms, of the confusion and disbelief that comes from watching and experiencing your body not behave the way that it was trained to. The way that it’s supposed to. I remember the doctors, and I remember crying in the car on the way home from the diagnosis (Ulcerative Colitis). I was five years old, and I needed to start taking medicine every day, medicine I’d be on for the rest of my life.
But I don’t remember ever really feeling like I was sick. Sure, I had some bad days; some really bad days, and I missed a lot of my childhood. I missed a lot of birthday parties, a lot of school, and a lot of sleepovers. But I still felt like a kid, for the most part.
The normalcy of my childhood is 100% completely and ultimately accredited to my parents. They gave me independence; allowed me to make my own decisions, to control how and when I wanted to take my medication, but they also did not let my disease define who I was or what I thought that I could do. They sent me to overnight camp with my bottles of pills, sent me to Israel when I was a little older, let me have relationships and let me explain on my own terms how and why I wasn’t always functioning on the same level as everyone around me. And I coped. I made a name for the “little man in my intestines,” who I creatively called Colin and determined each day whether he was in a good or bad mood. I took my medicine every day, talked to my doctors about switching from 4 pills 3 times a day to 12 pills once a day, and when I was in eighth grade and decided that it was all in my head, I even stopped taking my medicine for a while to prove it.
Obviously, I was wrong, and I still have the same condition today that I was diagnosed with when I was five. Plus one-or-two more, newer diagnoses (I was upgraded to Crohn’s Disease) that have resulted in my feeling a little bit disconnected from my body in the past few weeks. Just feeling like I’m really trapped in a machine that doesn’t know how to work, or keeps malfunctioning and I have no way of getting out.
I’m tired of feeling that way; I want to feel like I belong in this body, and while I know that there are certain things that I will never be able to change, I want to take control over the things that I can do. Primarily, I want to get rid of the extra weight that I’ve been lugging around; I want to be able to walk up two flights of stairs without getting winded, and I want to be able to shop in any store that I want to and find any article of clothing in my size that I’d like to buy.
To do that, I need to take better care of myself. I need to get some sunlight, eat healthier, eat less, and exercise more. Thanks to some inspiration from an old friend from camp and my determination to write a book about what going to weight-loss camp taught me, I’m really going to take better care of myself, once and for all.
As I explained in The Dreaded First Post, I’ve always failed at diary-keeping of any kind. Personal diaries, “dear diaries,” and even agenda-keeping. I think one of the main reasons for this is my inability to face commitment: once something is written down, it is real; so if I don’t write about something that is particularly challenging, I don’t have to revisit it. I can ignore it, and it will pass. But I am trying diary-keeping again, in a different forum. I started a new blog, called Journey to Half of Me. I don’t necessarily want to cut myself in half (there would be hardly anything left!) but I do want to become whole. And the only way that I can do that is to fill the gap between my soul and my body, to treat myself like I care about myself and to remember, every single day, that there is something inside of me that is divine.
To remember that I am NOT my body; it’s just something that I move around in. There is a silver thread running through my veins that contains the most fundamental and precious parts of me; and in order to maintain it’s value, I have to take care of the skin it’s in.