Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Elephant Who Wanted To Be An Ant

I’m apparently having a size identity crisis.

Now that I find myself two feet on the ground in Nova Scotia, amidst my childhood surroundings, I keep wondering to myself how I want to be perceived and considered. It wasn’t even a year ago when I was back home with a colon, babysitting, and doing endless sudokus while my blood supply drained into the toilet. What’s so different about last year Jennie and this year Jennie besides an ostomy? In some ways it feels like everything - I feel more empowered and more determined to be a part of the cure and the battle for awareness, empathy, and equality.

I don’t really consider myself to be sick, however stupid or oblivious that sounds. Sometimes I’ll catch myself saying things like “Last year when I was really sick” and for a brief moment I can’t believe I’m talking about my life because I don’t think of it as a ‘sick’ one. Why? Because it’s my life and I know that there’s a lot more to me than being sick - I’m the girl who uses her library cards so frequently she’s memorized the number, drinks tea after every meal, and always comes to a complete stop at a stop sign. Albeit small and insignificant facts, they are just as important as my medical history in determining who I am. And so, maybe just for that reason that everything has normalized, I find myself brooding and sulking over the lack of fuss or interest any remnants of hometown friends express towards my post-surgical state. While I don’t think that tragedies and hard times can - or should - be compared, I am all too aware of the things many people I know are having to deal with: the loss of a family member, bankruptcy, divorce, other illnesses. But I watch as everyone clammers to help the fallen, differences put aside to help the one in need, I wonder why this wasn’t the case for me for the people who I grew up with. I never want to be the victim, but I want to know that I’m cared about and a la Carol King, if I need them, they’ll follow.

So why was it different for me? Here are my theories. A) I am the elephant who wants to be the ant, who acts like the ant, who believe it’s an ant, so therefore people treat me like an ant - aka I act like IBD isn’t a big deal so no one gets that it is. B) The whole bathroom/bowel thing is enough to scare people away. C) They weren’t great friends to begin with. D) They didn’t know what to do.

It goes something like this: we want so much to be normal but we also want so much for people to understand that we’re different. Can we have the bread buttered on both sides? I don’t think they are mutually exclusive things, because at the end of the day we’re not normal and deserve to be treated equally like everyone else but also justly considering our circumstance. I may be an elephant who thinks it’s an ant, but come rain or shine, I’m still a freaking elephant no matter what I think and everyone should see that.

I’ll stop brooding and frowning, I don’t need the frown lines or the annoyance it causes. I’ll be the elephant I am, one with an identity crisis perhaps, but one that can make a whole lot of noise when she wants to (and she plans to).


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