My Journey with my Cross

My life journey started from the day I was born…I was beautifully made by him, inside and out.

But to say it has been an easy journey would be a lie. Instead, my journey has been one that is filled with cries, laughter, anxiety, confusions, blessings, love, and faith.

My name is Moniqua Demetrious and I was born on September 18, 1986 to a loving, supportive family. I was born into a family that cared for me tremendously. However, my life was different than most children surrounding me. I was immediately introduced to a father who was special and different than most, who was the founder & priest of St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox church on East Brunswick, New Jersey. Because he was a priest, I had to share him & my mom unwillingly with others who loved them just as much as I did. I also met him with health issues that would get worse each year, which oddly enough felt normal, since it was all I knew. Crazy to think.

My life has been a roller coaster filled with overwhelming love– my father & best friend passed away Feb. 10, 2009; my world crashed. I was 22 years old when he passed away. I was then diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 23 (known as “UC” for short) in Jan. 2010; my world crashed yet again. Ulcerative colitis is a “chronic disease of the large intestine, also known as the colon, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers, that produce pus and mucous.” The struggles and life’s “promises” became so faint and untenable that I was unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Fast forward to 4 years–I married my best friend and soulmate on May 31, 2014. Life was finally getting sweet and on track. Prior to that, I graduated with a Bachelors in Social Work but later on went to Los Angeles for fashion school, which is what I love to do.

UC and now my ostomy has truly been the crosses of my life. An ostomy bag is “prosthetic medical device that provides a means for the collection of waste from a surgically diverted biological system (colon, ileum, bladder) and the creation of a stoma.” When I was first diagnosed with it, my faith was tested. I felt God turn His back on me again, especially since I had just gone through one of the biggest hardships of my life: the loss of my father. I found myself once again in a dark place, a place filled with sadness, confusion, anger, disappointment, and loneliness. I couldn’t understand why God put me through this medical disease. This was a disease that has no cure and doctors don’t know how one gets it since it’s an autoimmune disease. The first year was tough and I was a bit distant from God and the church due to being mad at God for “taking” my father and getting this unfamiliar health condition.

My mom and older sister were my backbone during this difficult time in my life. They were my voice of reasoning when I wanted to give up, and they were my strength when I was too weak to keep going. Despite my lack of faith, their strong faith in God showed me with time that He was all I needed. I got through the year and found the right medications that kept me in remission for 5 years. But because this disease is unpredictable, the “monster” came back a year into my marriage. And boom, I was faced with another struggle, marriage and my health. Being a newlywed on it’s on takes dedication and time but to have my health in the mix is a lot of work.

So, again I was hopeless: but this time, I cried out to God to help my husband and I get through it. I learned from that moment until today the meaning and power of prayer. I couldn’t then and I can’t now get through my cross without leaning on Him. And of course the overwhelming support & love of my husband.

Today, my UC has failed on me the last 2 years since all meds have stopped working, but the last 9 months have been the roughest. I’ve learned more about my health, purpose and Self than I ever thought I could. I’ve recently underwent my first of 3 surgeries in October 2017- phase one, ileostomy- removal of my colon (see you never!) and now have an ostomy bag (basically collects my poop-I call him “Safety”). May 1st, God willing will be my next surgery, phase 2 aka loop ileostomy- removal of rectum and constructing a j-pouch. I will still have an ostomy bag for at least another 3–6 months after.

My journey isn’t over and will never be. This will forever be my cross and I’ve chosen even when days are hard, and there are many, I still choose to share my journey openly and honestly. To show others that God has not left me. That even in my low days, He lifts me up. My guardian angel, husband, family, friends, faith, and UC/ostomate community has helped me in so many ways. Because of all these factors it has pushed me to start a blog and instagram account to advocate and bring a voice to this invisible disease, to help others, which has been therapeutic for me.

God made me beautiful in His image with all my imperfections (inside & out)-I may not love them at times but I love to share them in hopes to help others. I don’t know why God gave me this but I do know it has shown me that I am stronger than I think, that I have so much love surrounding me, that I love raising awareness, and that God and my angel are always holding my hands through this journey. Even when I think I can’t handle my cross, God constantly shows me I can. He gives me the strength I need to keep pushing every day. Not a day goes by where I don’t thank Him for the things in my life, even when I just do not want them. But then, I realize He has a given me a purpose to share my cross with others, and to learn to be thankful in every condition.

Posted on: Coptic Voice

Thank you again to Coptic Voice for publishing my story. This blog is such an incredible platform where they display different matters in the Coptic community. I was truly blessed to had the opportunity to share my journey.

Xoxo

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