When My Date Questions If I'm 'Enough' for Him Because of My Condition
When I tell you I am enough for you – believe me.
Dating as a person with a chronic acute disease was a challenge. Dating as a person with several autoimmune diseases combined with that chronic acute disease should stop me in my tracks. It used to. I shut myself off from dating for four years after I first became sick and reentering the dating world was terrifying. I met some wonderful men when I did and had several great relationships. I learned much about myself from them, but in the end, I still feel like my illness was the contributing factor that ended them. I was always too sick to sustain a relationship. The pain shut me off from the possibilities.
Since finding a better neurologist and moving my life about 600 miles south, away from my family and friends, leaving behind all of my safety nets…I thought dating would be even harder now. Especially with the discovery of two brand new autoimmune diseases. Turns out, I am tougher than I look.
And so it was with the new mindset that I decided to give online dating a go and I cast myself willy-nilly into the dating world, with nothing more than my trusty computer, my loyal dog, Nola, at my side, and my best friend to laugh at my shenanigans.
Through this last year and everything I have survived, I have come to accept myself in ways that I never did before. Accepting myself has had an affect on the way others treat me as well. I have discovered that there is a lighter side to the constant stream of chaos that being chronically ill puts you into, and you can learn to swim in it quite well, if you only try.
I am a fish. If my doctors and I can laugh at the ridiculousness that my body can imagine up for me, what can a stranger possibly hurl at me that can tear me down? That was what I thought, until the words tore into me.
“Your health…Well, that’s a check in the negative column. Too bad.”
There are things about my health that are facts of life: I will get migraines, I will be struck down by my health, I can be hit by a flare at any time, I have to attend almost weekly appointments with specialists, and there are healthier people out there to choose from. My health limits me in ways that many able-bodied people cannot even begin to imagine.
There are things about my life that you will never understand: every experience I get to have brings me more joy than most people get from their biggest vacations, the love I am capable of giving because of the hardships I have faced is deeper and less selfish than most love I have ever experienced, and every day I get to smile and laugh. I am living to the fullest, and every day that I hurt, I am still thankful I am here. Do you have any idea the strength it takes to be grateful while you are in too much pain to cry?
What I don’t need is someone to feel bad for me. I don’t need to be looked down upon. I am not less because of my diseases or conditions. If anything, I am more. I have survived many things and I am out here in the world, on the days my body allows it, and I am living. Even if it is not the same living that others define their lives as – I have redrawn my life so that I can be happy.
I have survived not only these diseases but the darkness that chronic pain casts upon one’s life, and I have come out stronger because of it. I survived going from a healthy 25 year old woman with her whole life ahead of her, to the woman whose tale I just told you. And yet I am here smiling at you. If you only knew how many times I have picked myself back up after being struck down by yet another blow; you would not look at me as a lesser person.
So, when a man questions whether I am enough for him because of my condition, I know that it is he that is not enough for me. I have oceans to offer him with depths he will never reach. It breaks me, a bit, to be so defined something that society sees as such a negative quality.
To see men that desire me when they first gaze upon me, asking, “How are you still single?” recoil from me when I bare my truths to them. I can see them swiping onto the next woman – the healthier woman. I don’t hate her for her health, and I don’t envy her. And this man? He still has growing to do.
I know that there will be another chance at love. That this isn’t my match and it wasn’t meant to be. I know all of this. But it still takes its toll, to be rejected for a disability. Something that I know all too many people can identify with. There are notches on my heart from their words, their looks. And it isn’t as easy as giving up dating. Because why should I have to give up on “normalcy” or romance? Isn’t that acknowledging that people who aren’t able-bodied don’t deserve the same love as the able-bodied? This is not a message I will ever endorse, nor will I reinforce it.
I am here to tell you, I have felt this too. I have learned to stand up for myself through this. I have learned to defend myself against the ignorance, which is what it is. I am writing this because I want you to know that you deserve love, but adding to that, you deserve “twitterpation,” first kisses, cuddles, pizza in the moonlight, Netflix dates at home in sweatpants, that first time holding hands…Whatever your perfect date is, however you need to have it to fit your needs – you deserve all of that without someone making you feel less because of your condition.
Especially when I know you are so much more because of it.
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Thinkstock Image By: AntonioGuillem