How do you learn to love something that causes you so much pain?
It's a common question that married couples and long term partners have been asking themselves for generations. And masochists. Although those two examples probably go (painfully) hand in hand.
For me, love is many things. A many splendored thing apparently.
Love is comfort.
A word rarely associated with Crohn's Disease. In fact i'd go as far as to say that having Crohn's, is decidedly more akin to a toxic relationship on the road to nowhere, than the grand-love-of-the-century wafted about in Jane Austen novels.
In it's wake, this dysfunctional disease leaves it's recipient bruised, battered and on the rubbish heap. Much more Mr Arsey than Darcy.
Love is an acceptance of another persons flaws; or what you, in your vanity, perceive as their flaws. And in allowing them to see yours. A good relationship can be a vaguely terrifying mirror; in opening up to someone you show them yourself, and all those nasty little parts you've perhaps tried (or hoped) to conceal for so long.
Love is trusting in someone else completely. An often petrifying prospect. Love is fear. LOVE IS ABJECT TERROR.
I jest of course.
I am in love.
Like Donna Summer before me, I feel love. One of the things I love most about love are the different levels of love.
I love my parents with a ferocity that often scares me : the idea of being without that well of emotion would be a massive black hole.
I love my friends forcefully and relentlessly and I fear for them : if they are unhappy I become motherly and want to kiss all their boo boos better.
I love my wee cats because OH MY GOD HAVE YOU ACTUALLY SEEN THEM?!
I love my partner with an indescribable depth : it can be a rush of feeling all at once overwhelming and incredible and absolutely like home, and if I were to stop and think about my life now without that big dude in it, it would be completely barren and utterly blue. And now I'm crying on my keyboard are you happy now?!
But I digress. All this love patter is probably making you rush for a sick bucket by now, and that's just fine because I'm there with you. The thing about illness is, it's hard to love. Even harder, I'd wager, when you are stuck with it 'til death do you part. So how do you go about learning to live in harmony with your strangest of life partners?
For me, acceptance is key. The key to your heart, one might say. But not me because i've already used my quota of AWFUL love puns today.
In beginning to accept your body's 'flaws' you can attempt to overcome them. No, you will not of course be able to rid yourself of Crohn's as you may wash that man right out of your hair; but you can learn to live in (borderline) harmony together.
Laugh together; how ridiculous do you feel trussed up on a bed with a camera up your rear end? Very? - Think of what laughs the grand kids will have at those Colonoscopy snaps in years to come!
Of course not. Keep them in the album where they belong. But seriously, love is in essence the opposite of hate. It says so on prison men's knuckles so it must be true.
So why hate something you have no control over? Try to make the best of a bad lot : don't spend your life wound up in bitterness at your situation. It's here and it's here to stay so try and get used to that idea. (Funnily enough one of my first draft vow-ideas if I ever get hitched)
Don't waste your life in anger and resentment at your partner in toilet- crime. Grab a packet of wet wipes and get back on the saddle.
Crohn's, like love, changes everything. But don't allow it to take everything from you too.