Dear Jenni's 16 year old Guts,
You are sixteen and have started having occasional problems with your belly. Pain here and there that goes unrelieved. Spells of diarrhea that your Mom just calls "the wooshers". You don't have a name for what's wrong yet because you don't know that it is a real problem right now. You are active. You have lots of friends and are doing great in school. You will graduate soon, but don't be in too much of a rush to grow up. You don't understand the things happening in your family dynamic now but trust me, things are working out just how they are supposed to.
Before too long you will be diagnosed with Crohn's disease. It won't be easy but it honestly won't be the worst thing you endure in your life. Maybe you can bypass some of the ugliness in your life if you just trust your friend sooner. You know which one. He was right all along - Jesus does change things.
Stay away from the blonde hair, blue eyed beauty. He talks fast and his words are pretty but his fists hurt. You deserve so much better. You don't feel like you do but you do. One day you will realize this. He does more than physically hurt you though. The beginning of your scars start with him.
You are going to go through some really rough times with your health because of this Crohn's disease. A lot of pain. A lot of medication. A lot of surgery. You are stronger than you think and the best support system you have is your family. Give your Mom a break. She didn't make this happen to you and she loves you more than you can imagine. It isn't until you become a Mom that you will fully understand this. It kills her to watch you go through everything you have to and if she could take your place she would in a second. But it isn't her fault. Hug her often and never stop telling her how much you love her. Let her know that you appreciate her taking care of you. Stay at home as long as you can. Don't be in a rush to be on your own because it only makes things harder for you in the long run.
You are going to fall in love and marry a great guy. He makes you laugh. He understands your health problems and supports you. He doesn't tell you very often just how amazing he thinks you are but don't be fooled, he honestly thinks you hung the moon. You are going to be able to be a wife and a Mom although be prepared. Crohn's disease will steal your ability to bear your own child. That is probably the hardest thing you will have to deal with in the whole scheme of things. You adopt a wonderful child and you love her like she is your own but you never stop wondering what if. Try to just focus on the blessing that you have in her. That would be best.
If you only remember one thing, remember this: You are stronger than you think you are. Every time you think you don't have anything left in you to fight, just dig a little deeper. You are nothing short of remarkable. You don't feel like it a lot of the time but it's true. You're determination and stubbornness will bring you through your hardest times. Never ever give up. Even when they take your belly button and your riddled with surgical scars. Your beauty isn't found on the outside.
One last thing, love yourself more. You're really not as bad as you think. Be kinder to yourself and way more forgiving.
Jenni's 36 year old Guts.