A Letter to My Younger Self
It’s okay, you can look down. I know it’s scary. I know it’s new. But it’s okay, you can look down now. As a matter of fact, take a long hard look because this, your stoma, your brand-new ostomy will change your entire life, for the better. I know, I know, you probably don’t believe it right now, but it will. Trust me on this. Okay, look down one more time because that’s the last time I want you to ever look down. Look at your ostomy. Learn to love it. Learn to accept it. Learn to appreciate it because you will soon realize that anything that has the power to save a life can be nothing but beautiful.
You are already going through so much and at such a young age. You don't deserve it. I wish very much that I could take the hurt from you. Just between me and you, I wish I could honestly say that the pain will stop. But I can't. You are thirty-four years old now and at times I am still in so much pain. There will be moments where it seems like things will never get better, but it will. What I’ve learned is that it will be solely up to you to be strong in who you are. Remain hopeful. Be happy in spite of the difficulties. You must seek to find the beauty in all things.
I would tell you how life will unfold, but I won’t. Because you have to live through it and feel through it. Feel the hurt, feel the pain, feel the fear. Feel the good times. Feel the bad times. These experiences will allow you to overcome everything you are going through and will go through. These experiences will make you all that you are. They will mold you to become the woman you will one day be.
I know you were hesitant about receiving an ostomy because of all the things you see and hear on television. You were afraid that you would be an outcast with the social stigma attached to such an operation. You were afraid that love would evade you. You were even afraid that you wouldn't be able to love yourself again. You will. You will have all of those things. You will find love and love will find you. All I can say now is it’s a process accepting yourself for who you are and all that you are. It will take time, so don’t rush it. Don't let society's views of what is beautiful dictate how you feel about or view yourself. Know that true beauty can only come from within. Know that what you have been through only makes you stronger. People may look at you strange and not understand how you survived. But the fragility of most can't comprehend the strength of a few. Your strength makes you admirable. Your scars make you victorious. You are more than what meets the eye because you are altogether beautiful.
You may not see this now or even understand it but you were indeed chosen to endure this for a very special and unique purpose. It may feel like nobody else understands, but listen to me very closely, I understand, and it will be okay. Trust me! You are very special! You are very unique! You are more than beautiful! You will find or may already realize that the pain you are enduring will be your greatest strength.
So just hang in there Gaylyn. Keep fighting. It will get better. Each and every day, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you will see your ostomy, and you will be reminded just how special life is and how strong you really are. Use this strength to acknowledge the light within you. Now hold your head up high and let your life be a light for all.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.
Through the power of social media and her pioneering efforts Gaylyn is recognized as a leading public and social figure raising ostomy awareness. She was featured in the groundbreaking Aerie by American Eagle 2018 Fall bra campaign and is now a featured model for Aerie. Gaylyn was awarded the first ever Catalyst for Online Community Engagement Award by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Through Gutless and Glamorous, she aims to encourage young women and men and her goal is to help erase the stigma of having an ostomy once and for all.
Gaylyn was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at the age of 14. Due to the severity of her disease, she had her entire colon removed leaving her with an ileostomy. She founded Gutless and Glamorous, a 501(c)(3) organization, with the mission of empowering those living with or contemplating ostomy surgery and to erase the negative stigmas of having an ostomy.
Gaylyn earned a BS in Biology from Benedict College and a Masters of Public Health from the University of South Carolina. Gaylyn volunteers her time with various organizations including, Camp Twin Lakes for children with IBD, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation National and Georgia Chapters. She serves as the Ostomy and Fashion Editor for Companion Magazine for IBD and is a member of the Inaugural Patient Advisory Committee.
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