You’ll recognize this question if you’ve ever really suffered: “Why is this happening to me?”
I know Crohn’s is a disease; it’s out of anyone’s control. But I have to somehow make sense of it. Why now? Why Crohn’s? Why me?
And in trying to make sense of it, I can’t help but compare it to the things that happen to other people.
And it seems way worse. I remember walking around the school cafeteria after I was diagnosed, wanting to knock the trays out of people’s hands because I was so angry that I was sick and they weren’t.
I’m still trying to place it on a scale. Every so often, I ask my husband, “Which do you think is worse—Crohn’s or breast cancer?” “Which do you think is worse—Crohn’s or going through a divorce?” “Crohn’s or losing a parent?”
He knows the answer I want to hear, and somehow it helps.
And sometimes it seems almost normal—it happened to me, so it can’t be that strange. People get diseases all the time. People have surgeries all the time. 1 bowel perforation, 9 large abscesses, 8 months of ileostomy, 2 months without eating, 3 surgeries, and a lifetime of fear—that’s not so bad, right?
And sometimes I’m caught up short by how very bad it all is—like just now when I wrote out that list.
But over time I have found one thought that comforts me, and perhaps it will comfort you, too.
I invite you into My Dark Place to hear it, as it is a very dark thought. And it is this:
Even if you look at someone who never seems to have felt a greater loss in her life than a few baby teeth, she will suffer, eventually. You have to think of a life as a whole, the entire past and future—and on that timeline, there will be suffering. If not now, then later. And eventually, it will be really bad. Crohn’s bad.
Which is a kind of comfort.
After all, if I have to suffer, then I want everyone to suffer.
And they will, sooner or later.
And that is my consolation when I ask myself, Why me?
Because it’s not just me.
There is a less dark way to put this, if you’re interested. I could rephrase “everybody suffers” this way: “we’re all in this together.”
The question “why me?” is misleading—it contains the assumption that everyone else really is living a life as beautiful, fun, and delicious as a Facebook page.
I just found out the other day that my perpetually cheerful friend with perfect hair was abused by a close relative as a child.
We all suffer. What’s happening to you is one specific version of what’s happening to everyone, sooner or later, in ways you would never know or guess.
So the answer to the question, “Why is this happening to me?” is this:
It’s not just happening to you. Eventually, in some version, it’s happening to all of us.