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Chronic Warrior
The Chronic Warrior

The Chronic Warrior

 My mother died when I was 14. Before then, I didn’t know how much the human heart could hurt. But I was still too young: a boy that age is not designed to cope with that level of trauma. So I did what most young boys would do.  I buried it.

I buried the pain with my mom. I was 18 years old before I visited her grave. The pain was buried under sports, friends, a relationship, school, video games, movies, food…whatever I could get my hands on. It was an unconscious defense. I remember missing her, I remember the tears, but I didn’t talk about her, I didn’t open up. I attempted to cover up the hole in my heart.

Four years later I’m lying on a bed between one of my stumbling trips to the bathroom. I had just been diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease after losing 30lbs in a month, my girlfriend had broken up with me a few months before, and my world as a high school senior was crashing down around me. Normal was over, health was gone.

I reached out, or I tried to. My dad was extremely supportive. Seeing my mom go through cancer helped him better understand my situation.

Over the next seven years I would reach a state of semi health, only to have everything crash down around me again as my disease would flare with a vengeance. That same patterned happened more times than I can count.  I turned into a broken tape player.

I reached out, only to realize that my friends, to no fault of their own, could hardly understand. Hanging out with people became incredibly stressful. Who knew when the situation would arise in which my ticking time bomb of a stomach would explode; the level of pain unbearable. I canceled most plans out of fear.

The only place I felt safe was at home with my video games and movies. I began living in an invisible prison, hating myself with a passion. An unattractive, malnourished, good for nothing, 20 year old. Hell, most kids I knew were halfway done with their college degree’s. And look at me: no degree, no job, living with my dad, in constant pain, playing video games. Stuck. Fucking stuck.

On the flip side, I loved being with people. Loneliness would win over and I’d try my hand at a new job and return to old friends. Then, after one too many unpredictable stomach bombs and hours of pain on the job, it became too much to take. I’d quit, run, and hide.

Instead of feeling pain, I began to shut it all out. This worked, until the rage and frustration would overflow into an uncontrollable fountain of tears, collapsing on the floor. I soon became so jaded I would laugh when I was in pain. Laugh.

I was a sealed tomb. Levels of emotion buried so deep that I couldn’t consciously access them.

A pastime of mine was to imagine being told by the doctors they found a severe form of cancer; that I only had a few months to live. As I would hear the news, there would be no sign of fear or despair.  The doctors would watch in shock as this sickly young man hollowly laughed at the news of impending death.

I hated the world, I hated myself; a complete and utter failure. Every job I had taken I had to quit, every endeavor I had ever set my mind to I had failed.  Besides for my close family and a few friends, I didn’t give two shits about anyone. My heart was buried under a pile of pain.

Honestly, I have no idea how I’m still alive. Being a naturally comedic guy I would joke all the time about myself dying on the rare occasion I hung out with other people. About 99% of the time I wasn’t actually joking.

I was done.

 

One day in the midst of all this, I cracked. I was driving home and the tears were falling so fast I could barely see where I was going. Despair was crushing my soul, attempting to flatten it completely.

Then it hit me. A note from heaven, if you will:

 

 If all this pain, all this agony, and all this suffering would enable me to help the life of just one person…it would be worth it. All of it.

 

Suddenly, I had something to fight for. That one person, or people, who needed my help. Who because of all this, I could help.

So I fought, tooth and nail. I fought the thoughts of driving my car off the bridge. I started fighting back against the despair. I threw myself back into social life, no matter how many friends I lost, or jobs I was forced to quit. I started exercising, using my rage to drive through the pain. I rejected the idea of quitting. This disease would not beat me. Nothing would beat me.

I would not give up.

And from that point on, I never have.

“The night is always darkest just before the dawn”

– The Dark Knight

Posted by Nate Ohlson at April 16, 2015 10:30 pm | No Comments »

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