How I Told My Boyfriend About My Ostomy
The day I decided to tell my boyfriend that I had an ileostomy, I was a nervous wreck. In my head, I rehearsed what I should say. I wanted the conversation to go perfectly, but I was worried about how the words would come out, and how he would take the news. The last time I attempted to have this talk, I got dumped. My ex-boyfriend of 7 years broke up with me two days before having ostomy surgery because he was cowardly and selfish, and couldn’t handle me “being sick all the time.”
This was when I realized that some people just aren’t resilient enough to go through adversity and come out stronger on the other end. I was terrified the same thing would happen again with my new boyfriend. I couldn’t handle getting rejected twice because of something so completely out of my control. But even though history had shown me otherwise, I was still convinced that this time I had found a keeper, who would accept me for who I am. However, that didn’t keep the doubt from creeping in. I was still worried that I could be blindsided.
After all, finding out your girlfriend has an ostomy is kind of shocking news.
My current boyfriend and I had only been dating for a few weeks when I decided it was time to let him in on my little secret. Even though I was terrified, I knew it was only fair to tell him. After all, it was a huge part of my identity, and something I would be living with for the rest of my life. Deep down, I knew I had nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, everything that had happened that led to me having an ileostomy was completely out of my control, but that still didn’t quell my fears. I still felt nervous and self-conscious about sharing my secret. And I was anxious to see how he would react. Sitting on his couch, I knew there were only two outcomes to this situation. Either he would accept me as I am, or he wouldn’t be able to handle it and we would break up. Either way, there was no turning back now.
All I could do was take a deep breath, face my fears, and start talking.
As soon as I opened my mouth, words started pouring out. It was like having an out of body experience. I could feel myself talking, but I felt like I was watching the scene happen from across the room. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I started at the beginning, explaining that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2012, and between then and 2015 I had about 30 surgeries to drain an abscess that refused to heal. I explained that because the abscess wouldn’t close, we decided to try a loop ileostomy to see if that would allow it to finally heal. I continued, explaining that essentially, I have a poop bag, who is named Sammy, attached to my stomach. Trying to make light of the situation, I joked that thanks to Sammy, I’m the world’s most perfect girlfriend; I can’t poop or fart.
When I finished talking, I stopped and looked at him.
I expected him to be grossed out or scared by what I had just told him.
Instead, I was met with love and compassion. And a fair share of curiosity. He reassured me that my bag didn’t define me. He told me that I’m beautiful and that having a bag doesn’t change who I am. Then, he shyly asked if he could see my bag. With slight hesitation, I had never done this before, I introduced him to Sammy. After seeing his reaction, I was overcome with happiness and relief. It was then that I realized that I didn’t have to hide my bag; it makes me who I am. I didn’t have to be embarrassed because I’m a fighter, a Crohn’s Warrior, and I’m proud of that.
Even though sharing your ostomy story may be scary and stressful, in the end, it’s worth it when you realize that there are people out there who will love and cherish you for exactly who you are, bag and all.
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