The Things I've Learned From Falling in Love, by a Fiancée With Chronic Illness
Note from the writer:
In May of 2016, I wrote and published the article Dear Future Husband, From Your Chronically Ill Wife. I posted that article on my blog, submitted it to The Mighty, and watched as the hundreds of comments poured in. I had a huge response to that article, and the stories that people shared in their comments either broke my heart, or touched me in a way that made me feel greatly compelled to write a response.
I’d like to point out that at that point in my life when I wrote that article, I had dated my fair share of despicable men that treated me poorly, and that piece of writing was my hopeful plea to someday find someone better. At the time, I had lost my sense of what it truly means to be loved by somebody, and I surrendered to the plain fact that nobody in their right mind would love me the way that I had always dreamed. I felt like I wasn’t deserving of love because I’d be subjected to unbelievable amounts of hate in a way that broke me down and made me feel like “the sick girl,” with nothing else to offer. I have Lyme disease, and because of that, I felt like love wasn’t in the cards for me.
The good news is that I’ve come to know that I was wrong. I was wrong to think I wasn’t deserving of love. I was wrong think I’d never fall in love the way I had always dreamed. I was wrong to think that nobody would ever love me.
People expressed in their comments on that article that they love to hear success stories. So I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to share my success story.
“I always thought that there was someone out there who was made just for me, and I’m so grateful that I finally found her!”
I sat in the car with my fiancé the other night when he said that to me. He looked at me with so much love in his eyes and I was filled with a tremendous amount of gratitude for him. It was dark, and the only light that washed through the car widows was the moonlight and the faint porch light that made it possible for me to see the handsome man that sat next to me. Every heartbreak, every betrayal, every tear, every ache, and every pain in my life seemed to lead to falling in love with this man, and knowing that now I have him, gives me hope for my future and healing from my past. He is one of many things that makes my suffering completely worth it.
The man I love has taught me many things about true love that I never considered before. In a way, he’s flown me to the moon and back, and opened my mind to things I couldn’t see by myself. He’s taught me miraculous things that helped me to open my heart to him and trust him completely. There are things in life that we don’t always see, until we find the person that helps us see them. The lessons he’s taught me are part of what makes our love story so special, because I will always treasure these things in my heart.
Here are the things he’s taught me:
True love does exist. Believing in true love is something I ceased doing after my long line of failed relationships. The men I dated taught me that soulmates weren’t real, love was painful, and that women (specifically a woman who has as many health problems as I do) were insignificant aspects of society. The sweet man I now have in my life taught me otherwise. He taught me that there is someone out there who makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. And when you find that person, you should cherish them, and never let them go. The connection I have with my fiancé is a connection I’ve never had with anyone else, and it’s something I will treasure for my entire marriage. I’m not a mere trophy to him, I’m the woman of his dreams that he loves unconditionally, whether I have Lyme disease or not. That alone means that world to me, and says to me that true love is possible, and that I have found it.
Loving a sick girl really isn’t that hard. I found a man who supports me in every aspect, including my chronic Lyme. I found a man who holds me through my pain, and sticks by my side for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. I found a man who fights my illness with me, and does everything in his power to decrease my pain. True love extends to hardships and trials. True love endures through it, and grows even stronger as we work through those hard things together. Loving me isn’t hard for my fiancé because of Lyme disease.
When I wrote to my future husband in that article, I was right. He never imaged marrying a sick girl. But he doesn’t hesitate for a second to love me the way that he does. He doesn’t cease to love me because I have Lyme. He loves me even more because he sees the person that I am because of what I’ve been through, due to my Lyme. Loving a “sick girl” isn’t that hard, because he’s not in love with my disease anyway. He’s in love with my heart, my mind, and the things that truly matter.
True love sees beyond the chronic illness. “I’m not marrying a sick girl! I’m marrying you!” The first time my fiancé expressed that to me, I realized that I’m not merely a “sick girl.” I have a chronic illness that limits my abilities and makes life a little more difficult, but my ability to love and be myself isn’t suppressed due to an illness that is out of my control. My potential isn’t limited because of Lyme disease. My spirit and soul isn’t altered because of the illness that my body houses. He always tells me that he doesn’t see me as a “sick girl.” He sees me as me. Lyme disease is painful and discouraging. It’s not easy, and it adds extra complications to our lives. But in my personal opinion, Lyme disease isn’t a detour from our happiness. It’s simply a small bump in the road on our way to eternity.
God blesses me when I least expect it. The best love stories are the ones that are least expected. I believe I had to take time in my life to let God write my love story, and when He did, it was more than I ever imagined it to be. I’m incredibly blessed with a man who is there for me and fights with me in this daily battle. I truly believe God lead us to be together. God put him in my life at the right time, and it is through God’s Divine hand that we finally came together. I believe God had a glorious plan for me that I didn’t even have for myself, and because of that I’m able to find joy in the journey, despite my difficult circumstances.
Happiness is a choice. Life is hard! It is for everyone. We’re given trials to help refine us, but along the way, I don’t believe God wants us to be miserable. My Lyme battle helps me believe that happiness is something I discover in the little things. Then my fiancé helps me find the little joys in life that I struggle to see on my own. My fiancé helps me choose happiness, even amidst pain and suffering. When I found the one who brought me the utmost joy throughout considerable amounts of despair, that’s when I knew I had found something special. Something that I will always cherish deeply.
I’m not a “burden.” I’m not a “sacrifice.” I’m a blessing. Every day he goes out of his way to bless my life in little ways that bring me immense healing and comfort. Whether that’s leaving flowers on my doorstep for me to wake up to in the morning, bringing me something that makes treatment less miserable, learning to cook my specialized diet, or even just telling me how much he loves me and why. He makes little sacrifices for me every day to make my life more comfortable, but he doesn’t see them as sacrifices. It’s incredible to me that when you truly love someone, what seems like a sacrifice isn’t really a sacrifice at all. It’s an act of love, and it’s completely worth it because when you truly love someone, you’ll do anything for them.
Never stop dancing. About a month into our relationship he asked me, “How come we never dance?” He pulled me close to him and we slow danced in my basement for no particular reason other than to take a moment and make it perfect. I realized later that we originally met at a youth dance when we were about 15. I never thought that first dance would end up being the dance of a lifetime. Now, we dance at random moments all the time. Every time he asks me to dance, we create a perfect moment together and I realize that he’s taught me throughout our relationship that “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Never stop dancing with the people you love, because those perfect moments in life don’t last forever. I hope to spend the rest of my life dancing with my one true love.
Love can be the most healing medicine. When you find that special person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you begin to inwardly heal from all of life’s ailments and afflictions. In no way does that mean that my Lyme disease is gone, or that I live a pain-free life, or that things are always easy. It simply means that now I have someone that wants to walk this journey with me.
He’s my rock and my helper. My companion and my partner. He’s my best friend and the healing that he helps me achieve is a blessing that I am eternally grateful for. Love plays a big part in my healing from all of my pain in life. One of the many things that led me to fall in love with him is that he made a sincere effort to understand what I’m going through. He made an effort to be a part of my life, even the parts of my life that aren’t all that pretty. Our relationship is a healing relationship for me. I love him so much, and I can’t imagine my life without him.
It’s possible to find love even with a chronic illness. It’s not always an easy road, the first person you come across may not be the one, and there may be a load of heartbreak first… But just as I refuse to give up fighting this dreadful disease, I couldn’t give up hope that there was someone out there for me just because I have Lyme disease. Lyme disease didn’t alter my love story. Lyme disease is just a simple appendage of my love story. It’s there, but it doesn’t put a damper on the fact that I’m marrying the man who was made for me, and whom I love with all my heart. I’m eternally grateful to him and all that he does for me, and all that he continues to do for me.
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Thinkstock photo by Archv