It all started back in 1983 when I got married. I’m not kidding; that was really the beginning of my digestive issues. Back then not much was known about solving these things other than to ‘drink more water, eat more fiber and get more exercise’. It is now commonly accepted that there is a gut-brain connection; that what is going on in your psyche and emotions will affect your digestion.
Back then we just didn’t make the connection.
I was in a stressful marriage (and that’s an understatement). It was a patriarchal union, meaning the husband would be the head of the home and by consequence, the head of the woman. That would be me. At the time I was kind of grateful to have husbie take charge of just about everything; I married at 30 years old and was tired of doing it all for myself. I didn’t realize it, but I became the proverbial ‘frog in the water’ and as time passed, I became a different person, one that my old friends would not have recognized. I slowly gave up my rights, the ability to express an opinion and I became fearful of just about everything. Even though I didn’t see my life from the outside, my family did, and my guts knew back then that I was in a difficult situation. We were ‘born again’ Christians. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but we kept going to Bill Gothard’s Basic Seminar, Advanced Seminar and finally we homeschooled our children with Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute. Our lives were governed by rules and regulations. For example, I was not allowed to wear pants; I had to defer to my husband in everything; modesty ruled; men couldn’t have a beard; we were to accept as many children as God brought, so there was no birth control. From age 31 to age 40 I had five pregnancies which included two miscarriages, all the while homeschooling my children with no real curriculum except for the Bible and 40 ‘wisdom booklets’.
I cried every four weeks.
Throughout all this I started to have IBS symptoms, although I didn’t know then what it was. I thought I just didn’t eat enough fiber, drink enough water and exercise enough. Well, who would have had the time with all the pregnancies, homeschooling and a demanding husband? But the stress took its toll and I alternated between bloating, constipation, tummy ache, diarrhea, more bloating, and general misery. I had a hard time to eat out and when I did, I came home with an 8-month pregnant looking stomach. And it hurt. On the 30 minute drive to church every Sunday, we would have to stop a couple of times for ‘Mommy to do her business’. It was a standing family joke, but I wasn’t laughing.
A doctor never attended to these problems of mine and they persisted for the 21-year duration of my marriage, and beyond.
More to come…