Love Triangle, Part 3: The Complex Relationship of Lupus, Love, and Me
A columnist recognizes the importance of loving and prioritizing herself
Third in a series. Read parts one and two.
It’s been almost seven years since I was diagnosed with lupus. During that time, I’ve known many evolutions of myself, and each version of Kristiana has held a different outlook on love and life.
We began with a 20-year-old girl who was scared and lost, and trying to find meaning and purpose amid a life-changing diagnosis. Sitting among the ruins of the life I’d once known, nothing was left except for an unbreakable foundation. As I began to rebuild, I turned every piece of rubble over in my hands twice. If I was forced to start from scratch, every choice, every brick, would be sure and conscious.
In the early days of the resurrection, little was certain except for my steadfast values, but I still held out hope for love. The problem with searching for love when you don’t know who you are is that you’ll accept almost anything. And young, naive Kristiana did. My confidence was so lacking that I’d call almost anything love, when in reality, it was probably “like” at best.
I didn’t have the same confidence as pre-lupus Kristiana. I didn’t feel worthy of being loved completely, because I didn’t feel complete. As Stephen Chbosky wrote in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I accepted less because, at that point in time, I didn’t believe I deserved anything more.
Fast forward to me being 22 and in a relationship that was serious from the start. At the time, it was everything I thought I wanted. There was so much love and understanding. For over four years, it was exactly what I needed. That era of my life gave me the space to work out who I wanted to be and the time to cement it deep. But in the midst of my growth, I was reminded of a pledge I’d made half a decade earlier.
I had ended a relationship at the beginning of my 20s, after spending the better part of a year compromising myself, my time, and my happiness. I’d hoped I could save the relationship, though it was never built to last. In the end, I swore to myself that I’d never make that mistake again. I promised to choose myself every time.
Unfortunately, there are consequences to growth, such as outgrowing the pot you’re housed in. Faced with choosing myself or “forever,” I took one last deep breath and threw myself off the cliff, ending my four-year relationship. I’d made a promise to the most important person in my life — myself — and I had to honor my word.
It takes a lot of confidence to walk away from a life you’ve spent years building. But I’d promised to choose myself, no matter how much hurt might be waiting around the corner, or how much rebuilding might lie ahead.
So I did.
In the last six years, I have built myself into the person I am today. I see every step that I took and every decision that I made at every fork in the road. I am who I am not by chance, but by choice.
You don’t start with confidence but develop it over time. Have faith that you can start with almost nothing like I did more than six years ago. All you need is a seed of hope and a few good people to help water, nurture, and guide you back when you go off track.
When it rains, it pours. By that, I mean, if I’m struggling, I’m struggling with everything at once. But even with all of my issues, hassles, and complications, I’m a damn great person. And if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I’m worthy of love.
And I don’t mean an “OK” kind of love. I mean an all-in, crazy, dorky, “pinch me, this can’t be real” kind of love. You know why I believe that? Because I’m an all-in, crazy, dorky, do-anything-for-you kind of person.
I deserve as much as I give, and for the right person, I’d give it all.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.