When a long-term relationship ends, I usually take a year or two to understand the new me because, let’s face it, we change. My last serious relationship ended in 2010. After a while, I got caught up in all the wonderful things that were happening in my life, and dating again was honestly one of the last things on my mind.
When I finally did get back around to the thought of dating, men I had no interest in would ask me out and I would respond with, “Sorry, I don’t date.” Men I might have had an interest in would tell me I was intimidating, so I figured I should forget the idea of having someone significant in my life. So that’s what I did. I filled my time with building a business, being with friends and family, and doing other things that brought me pleasure. Then I hit a brick wall.
I moved to a new town, where I knew only a few people I worked with. I had moved there to take a new position, and got sick. I spent months in my apartment all alone trying to figure out what was stealing my life. When I was finally diagnosed with lupus, I was relieved. At least I finally had a name for this thing that was beating the daylights out of me.
But I was still sad and angry because lupus is incurable, and no one could tell me where it came from. Those were some of the loneliest times ever. The furthest thing from my mind was having a man in my life.
A year later, and with a little more than a year’s worth of experience with lupus, I was still feeling lonely. Most people who you spend the majority of your time around are healthy. They think a day of being tired means they can relate to your chronic fatigue. They think a kink in their knee means they can relate to the fiery joints you have pretty much on a daily basis. So, when you start thinking about dating, you’re probably looking at a healthy partner.
You show up with your invisible illness, and he thinks he’s getting the girl of his dreams. Then you have to cancel the date because you can’t crawl out of bed, and he thinks about that day when he was really tired, but still got things done.
He books a great restaurant but you can’t eat half the food, because you know they are a trigger for lupus. He figures you are a picky eater and thinks, “How will I ever be able to invite her to dinner since she ‘chooses’ not to eat certain foods?”
Lupus won’t wait three or four months for you to ease him in slowly to the idea that you aren’t well. I am really battling with this. I don’t have the luxury any more of filling the empty space in my life with activities that allow me to ignore the empty space in my heart. Now I sit home for days on end. I’m still a bit of a workaholic, but there are too many empty moments that allow me to think about this situation.
As a healthy woman, I had a difficult time finding a suitable partner. Now, as a woman who is battling something new almost daily, I find it difficult to think I can ask a perfect stranger, who has options, to battle alongside me. This makes me sad. Lupus is enough to deal with. The thought that, as a young woman, the last relationship I had might have actually been my last relationship, is hard to accept.
My worry that I will hurt the rest of my life, and that I will be alone while I hurt, makes the pain more difficult. Sometimes wrapping yourself in a pair of loving and understanding arms can make a world of difference. It can be a moment of real honesty, with no happy fluff added in.
I am not one to wallow, but I would be a liar if I said this is not something that weighs on me. I pray for a partner who will be understanding and choose to know me in spite of my difficulties. I am usually optimistic, but this one has me wondering.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 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 a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.