In September of 2015, I had my son – the best thing that has EVER happened to me. Unfortunately, with the best thing also came the worst thing. I nearly died and I woke up from emergency surgery with a colostomy. Life after an ostomy has had its challenges but it has also had its lessons.
When I look back on this whole experience, I often feel like this was all some story that I once heard, a thing that happened to a friend of a friend but it’s just so unbelievable that you don’t forget the tale. Except this wasn’t something that happened to a friend of a friend. It happened to me.
I don’t want to rehash the exact moments of that experience, I think I’ve done that enough. I’m ready to let go but one thing that I can’t stop thinking about is how much what I value has changed since then and how a lot of what I already believed has been confirmed.
This morning I woke up thinking about how in a few months it will be TWO years since my reversal surgery. TWO years since I’ve not had to change a bag of poo and struggle with the pain from my surgery. People ask me if I’m okay now, since my reversal – if I’m healed. If I’m “normal” and I don’t think I will ever be normal really. I don’t think that you really come back from that kind of experience. I’m different in a lot of ways but perhaps most notable is how much more I value my life, the relationships in it and the things I spend my time doing.
What I know for sure (thanks Oprah for this phrase) and my rules for 2018
No space for drama and draining people
I’ve always been someone who stays away from drama. I am REALLY not into high school squabbles and I actively choose to walk away from friendships that don’t serve me.
Now more so than ever before. I really believe that the relationships we have with people feed into how we see and process the world around us. If you spend a lot of time with people who are nasty and mean, then your life is influenced in that way. I try to avoid people like that.
I’m also actively choosing to stay away from people this year who spend a lot of their energy on telling you how amazing they are and how much good they do in the world. If you have to TELL people about it, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reasons and I feel like I don’t want that energy in my life.
Lastly, I’m choosing to stay away from fake people. I’m just exhausted by that kind of thing. Be REAL! Stop adjusting yourself to fit in with everyone. That’s literally my life motto! Be Unapologetically YOU!! You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay too!
The importance of resilience
What I’ve really discovered since my surgery is that I’m one hell of a resilient person! Yup, my ability to bounce back and still be positive in the world has surprised even me! I’ve learnt that I’m really really good at recovering.
So much so that I’ve surprised even surgeons who expected me to be down and out for ages longer. An example, the coma I was supposed to be in for a while (three days) that I decided nope, I’m ready to wake up from after just over a day. I’m not a fan of being “down,” I’m not good at not being okay.
Recovery from all of it was tough, that’s for sure but it taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I refused to not be okay! I refused to sit back and let life defeat me.
I’ve bounced back from losing so many loved ones, from nearly dying, from living with a colostomy, from the roughest start to motherhood I could have imagined. I’ve survived it all and the lesson I take from this is that you need to be able to adapt.
You need to know that when something bad happens, it may FEEL like the worst thing ever but you WILL get over it. You WILL recover and you will keep living. When people die, often you get this “I can’t go on” feeling in your belly and you want to die too. You want to give up. I’ve learnt that if you fight, just a little, you get through it. That’s what matters. You hold on to that fight.
The value of following your dreams
After my whole surgery/ nearly dying drama, I’ve discovered more than ever that doing what fulfils you is SO important. I quit my job to focus on me, doing what I love and to start my family and I have absolutely NO regrets at all. I can’t emphasise the value of being happy with your day to day life. I KNOW that to “follow your dreams” is a thing of privilege. I’m not an idiot. I know that the majority of people in this world can’t just up and quit their jobs.
That’s not how the real world works but even those who work jobs they hate to pay the bills need to find something that makes them feel that life is valuable. It doesn’t matter what that is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a side hustle that brings in money or just sitting in a quiet place at the end of the day and thinking about butterflies. What ever it is that brings your heart peace is what you NEED to dedicate time to. Figure out what makes your heart happy and dedicate some time to doing it.
Stop beating yourself up and just let go
One thing I really struggle with a lot that I’m still working on is self-love. I’m SO critical and I’m also a perfectionist which means that EVERYTHING I do is criticised and questioned and doubted. I really need to start working on being kinder to myself. On accepting that I’m NOT the most perfect person, mom or wife but that’s okay too! I need to work on bashing my body. I have never been this over weight before and it’s a direct result of my medical history AND my lifestyle. I HATE my body but I do nothing to actually change that and this year, I’m working on being kinder to myself. I’m working on letting go of the pressure that I place on myself to be everything all the time. It’s okay to just be.
What I know for sure is that life is fragile, it’s hard, it kicks you in the shins and then it’s magical. If you just let go, enjoy the little things and know that the harder times will pass, life can be wonderful. When you’re struggling and life feels like it will never improve, know that every moment passes, both the good and the bad and before you know it, it’s a new season. Life is beautiful and it’s ugly and it’s short and sometimes it drags on forever.
It’s not the length of your life that really matters but how you fill the hours of today!