Why I'm Forgiving the People Who Mocked Me Before My Diagnosis

“There’s something wrong with you.”

“This isn’t normal.”

“Seriously. Why are you acting like this? What’s wrong with you?”

“You shouldn’t be behaving like this at your age.”

Sound familiar? If you’re a young person who was showing symptoms of a chronic illness several years before actually being diagnosed, it probably does.

For several years leading up to my diagnosis, I was exhibiting a lot of strange and confusing symptoms. I tried my best to cover them up because my mind was telling me that they were “my normal.” Nevertheless…when blood showed up in the toilet bowl and I couldn’t hide it, there was a bit of ridicule to follow, combined with some anger, claims of “being unhygienic,” etc.

I have memories people telling me something was “seriously wrong” with me.

Well – they weren’t wrong. At age 18 I was officially diagnosed with severe Crohn’s disease. That explained a lot of those behaviors and symptoms. I waited for an apology. It never came.

At first, this made me sad and angry. Several years of teasing, laughing, and casual claims that something was wrong with me ended up in me getting the lifelong sentence of a serious chronic illness. I bottled up a lot of this anger and hurt. I told myself I deserved an apology. I still believe I do.

However, I’ve come to realize that harboring these grudges against people I know care very deeply for me is useless. Will I ever get the apology I truly want? Probably not. But I also see apologies in my family’s everyday behavior. Whether it’s coming to every doctor appointment and procedure, going out to get the only food that doesn’t make me nauseous on a certain day, or coming over to spend some time with me, I can see that they regret a lot of their remarks.

The remarks will never leave my mind. Chronically ill people constantly harbor the fear that they are a burden, that they’re disgusting, that they don’t deserve the love and support of people around them. These are intrusive thoughts that I’m actively trying to push out of my mind. It might take a while, but what difficult thing takes two minutes?

I won’t ever forget the things said to me by the people I love and trust most, but I now remind myself that they didn’t know I was seriously ill – nobody did. Was something seriously wrong with me? Yes. Was I teased about some of my symptoms? Yes. Can I go back in time to change it? No. And so, I’m trying to move forwards. I will never receive the apology I want because it’s one that I’ve constructed in the most complex of manners in my mind. It’s the apology I want, perhaps an apology I deserve, At the end of the day, me moving forwards, silently forgiving people who just didn’t know that I was suffering, and trying to live a happy, positive life, rather than dwelling on sour memories will serve me better in the short and long-term.

Instead of dwelling on old events, I can work on becoming less bitter, more loving, and more forgiving. I think that’s a better goal than trying to squeeze an apology out of someone that, no matter what it contains, will never be enough.

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