Lena Dunham is finally stepping forward into a new, healthier chapter of her life, but she's admittedly feeling a sense of loss at the same time.
After struggling for years with endometriosis—a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus—going through five surgeries and attempting several non-surgical approaches (including yoga, holistic eating and "vaginal Valium"), the actress can officially say she's "disease-free."
In this week's edition of her Lenny Letter, she writes, "My [final] surgery went off without a hitch. When I emerged, cotton-mouthed, [Dr. Randy Harris] told me something I hadn't expected to hear, maybe ever: there was no endometriosis left. Between my surgeries and hormonal intervention, I was disease-free. That doesn't mean it can never return, but for now, once my sutures have been removed and my bruises have changed from blue to yellow to green to gone, I will be healthy. All that will remain is my long-term relationship with pain, and it's time to get real about that."
As odd as it may sound, Dunham says this is a bittersweet moment for her because all she's known over the last few years was chronic physical pain, which masked a deeper pain and became part of her self-image.
"My pain—physical—distracted from my deeper pain—emotional, spiritual—and became the ultimate excuse," she wrote. "I had two modes: working and hurting. I was convinced there was nobility in it. There was certainly routine."
She continued, "Now, because of the unbelievable privilege of having thoughtful doctors, my body has been granted a reprieve. And I'm embarrassed to say that the excitement is mixed with loss. Pain and illness defined a time in my life."
However, she refuses for settle for that any longer and has decided to use this experience as a means of helping others going through something similar.
"If we've learned anything from the past year, it's that complacency has no business here," she wrote. "So many people who suffer will never have the resources I've had. My job is to educate people, to try to change the pathetic lack of resources for endometriosis, but it's also to seize this gift. I'll be more useful that way. We all would be if we unloaded an old ache."
"Love you. Thank you," Dunham concluded. "I'm not wishing you only freedom from pain, but rather the wisdom to know when it's time to let her walk alone."