So tomorrow is my birthday. I’m turning 36. Eeeek! That means I am officially closer to 40 than 30. Now that’s a scary thought!
I remember being completely freaked out at the thought of turning 30! Contemplating what I had accomplished to that point. Was I where I should be in life? Where I wanted to be? I didn’t have traditional things like a house or children, but I was happy, and we had big plans!
It doesn’t feel that long ago, my fabulous 30th birthday weekend celebrating with close friends with a winery tour and staying in a beautiful house in the Hunter Valley. Yet so much has happened since then.
So far my 30s have seen some of the best, but also worst, times in my life.
It was less than a month after my 30th birthday that I started having my first Crohn’s disease symptoms. These developed and led to the first few years of my 30s living in limbo, swallowed up in sickness, riding a roller coaster with my health. One minute things were on the improve, only to tumble back down and promptly I was reminded how quickly things can change with IBD. How it can literally kick you in the guts.
All the things I had been looking forward to, all those plans (including moving from Sydney to live in London) were put on hold and eventually cancelled. The physical, mental and emotional impact of Crohn’s disease took over and I had some pretty dark times. My 32nd birthday was spent in the emergency department at hospital, where the highlight of my day was being given an extra dessert (peach crumble with custard if I recall). At least I could still eat.
Surprisingly though, despite the difficult times, this period in my life was also incredible for other, more positive reasons. The tough times were interspersed with many heart-warming moments, much growth, self-reflection, and an opening of my eyes and thoughts within the world.
I met some incredible people (doctors, nurses, and strangers), saw such compassion, enhanced my friendships and felt closer to my family and Michael than I ever had before. I became more open and honest. More grateful and appreciative. Definitely more mindful and aware.
Post surgery, since feeling healthy again, I have had some of the best and most incredible experiences in my life. I have travelled to places and done things that I may never have done under other circumstances. This time last year we were toasting my birthday with fresh seafood and ouzo on the island of Crete!
I sometimes question what life would be like if I had never got Crohn’s. Would Michael and I be married? Would I still be working stupid hours at a 9-5 job that I didn’t really enjoy? Would I have started a blog? Would I have had the guts or inclination to pack up my life to travel and live life for 10 months? Would I be as strong (or insert many other adjectives here) as I am today?
At the time, during an awful Crohn’s flare, when in excruciating pain or upset about not being able to live my life, of course I would have changed things and wished my Crohn’s away at the wave of a wand.
Would I change things now? I honestly don’t know. For many reasons YES, but for many other reasons NO.
The bottom line is, I really had no control over this. It happened and I dealt with it (continue to deal with it) as best I can. I acknowledge that although it may not have always felt like it at the time, those years weren’t wasted.
There are no shoulds! No rules or preconceived ideas of where one “should” be at any given age. You make the most of the present, and each and every day, wherever you are and with whatever you’ve been handed. I acknowledge the bad, but also choose to look at the good that has come out of the ups and downs of my 30s so far. Perhaps, if I was still as unwell as I have been in other periods of this decade, I would not be saying this right now or being as positive. But I am currently well. I am alive and happy.
Although tomorrow I may be another day closer to 40 (and an old fart as my niece would say!), it’s another day lived and appreciated. I will celebrate being another year older, perhaps a little wiser, and another year full of (both good and bad) meaningful experiences!
This year I am also pledging my birthday to charity. In lieu of a gift 😉 or if you’d just like to donate to a great cause, please consider supporting my cause – Crohn’s & Colitis Australia (CCA) by following this link: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/106064/lauras-birthday
Thank you and Happy birthday to me!!