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My Journey to Accepting the Single Life With Chronic Illness

I am an abuse and assault survivor. I’m learning to live with, cope with, and yes, even thrive with various chronic illnesses and chronic pain. Something I have experienced that has completely knocked me off my feet at times is love. How does someone like me find love? I occasionally experience episodes of low confidence and self-esteem. The words of those who have abused me come to mind, and I think “Who wants to love me?” I’m talking romantic love.

Yes, I am fully aware of those around me, friends and family, who do love me. They often show it in little acts of service, in a thoughtful text or an unexpected visit when I have been holed up at home dealing with my health. The big challenge for me, then, is that I am attending university part time, taking one or two classes per semester online. My major
is Marriage and Family Studies. I study such things as marriage, children (i.e. fertility), illness, and even abuse. It can be a trigger for me and serves to remind me of where I am in life. As a young adult, I don’t ever want to make my friends and family feel bad for enjoying life, getting married and having children. Ultimately, the struggle for me has become finding a balance between my studies, coping with my lack of accomplishments in the area of romance, love and the blessing of children, while still being happy for those who are meeting these amazing milestones.

I have wrestled with feelings of inadequacy. The last guy I dated chose a career over a relationship, and the guys before that chose friends and family, or other girls over me. Add that to the assaults, abuse and illness, and it makes for a disaster. Through these challenges, I am learning to find things in my life to be grateful for. I don’t know if I’ll ever have children due to health challenges, and sometimes I even wonder about romance and whether I’ll find it. I wonder what it’s like to kiss a guy, or to be embraced by a guy and feeling completely safe in his arms.

What I have learned the most about my challenges and trials is that I’m a fighter. I’m confident and I hope to be given the opportunity someday to love and cherish the man who wishes to stand by me “in sickness and in health.” It may not always seem like it but I have to believe that I’ll reach these milestones someday in life. Until then I am learning to love myself and embrace life with its roller coaster madness. Up, around the loop, and back down… And… Repeat.

It’s OK because my trials have made me the kind of person I very much enjoy spending time with. I laugh at the most incredible or obviously horrible things. Laughter has become my best medicine for pain. I’m going to enjoy this wonderful journey because it is mine to live and enjoy; it’s sometimes dark, and quite often cheerful and bright but it’s attached to me and it’s OK. I’m “beautifully broken” yet thriving in my journey to self-discovery and love. As I like to say, “Come what may and love it!”

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Thinkstock photo by kieferpix