To the Guy Who Disappeared After I Had a Bad Week With Pain
Dating is hard. Everyone knows it. Except it’s even harder with chronic pain. But what’s perhaps the worst is when you open up to someone and let them in on the “real you,” only for them to disappear shortly after.
I have just recently experienced this, and it is something that must be shared. I recently met a guy who I seemed to have an instant spark and connection with. I’ll admit, it was something I hadn’t felt in so long that I was rather excited about it. Things that spark excitement are rare when you live with chronic pain, but the idea of a potential love…well, that really intrigued me.
He was charismatic and we seemed to get along so well; I really thought maybe I had met someone special. I had told him I have inflammatory arthritis and what came along with that. He seemed to not only accept it, but actually embrace it. After hearing my story, he said, “You are so strong, and you’ve been through so much… I really want to be the person who is next to you, who makes you feel better.” I thought, wow, he has said everything I could only hope a man would say to me. He even read some of my pieces on The Mighty and told me how “honored” he would be to have someone like me in his life. I believed I had met someone who “got me,” someone who I could finally show the real me to; yet I was so wrong.
Things were going great until I was having a stressful week with my pain. I was having a flare-up and was pretty down about it. Since he had made me feel so comfortable talking to him about anything, I thought I could open up and tell him about how hard my week was. He, on the other hand, said he was having a hard week at work. He kept complaining about work, and all I could think was how lucky he was to be in the position to be able to work. After all, it is a privilege to be able to work. To have a body that lets you put in long hours without paying the price of pain is something that should not be taken for granted.
So, here we were: one person who would do anything to be able to work, and another who was complaining that he had to go out for a work dinner – clearly not on the same page. However, despite the different pages, I tried to understand and sympathize with his stress. Yet, I did not receive this in return. We began to argue and I tried to explain how the stress of my week was affecting my mood. Instead of being supportive and understanding towards me, he got extremely cold and claimed I was acting aggressive towards him. He did not try and understand what was happening in my life and that maybe I wasn’t acting like myself because of the pain. In fact, he said, “Are you ever happy or just always sad and down?” I couldn’t believe it. I had been so happy and uplifting every time we spoke; I had one bad week and he couldn’t take it?
Shortly after that, I asked if we could meet and discuss things, but he wouldn’t. I remember telling him that the stress of the fighting and his coldness was not only hurting me emotionally, but really hurting me physically. When you have an autoimmune disease, stress makes pain a lot worse. Yet, this didn’t seem to change anything for him. He continued to refuse to get together and told me his feelings had changed. The guy literally did an entire 360. From acting like the most caring and thoughtful guy, he turned into ice. Needless to say, it shocked me. I didn’t think a couple of bad days could change feelings so fast.
I know some of you may be asking, why did I want to see him after he treated me like that? It’s a good question and I’m not sure I have the right answer for it. But, I will tell you when you have a chronic illness and you decide to let someone in and they appear to “accept” you, it hurts even more when they disappoint you. I didn’t want to let go so fast. I wanted to believe I had met someone who I could be honest and open with and they would stand with me (like he had said he would). But I was wrong.
In all, I believe it comes down to character. From dealing with chronic pain, I became a strong person. I am a person who has empathy and loyalty. I don’t give up on things, or people so fast. If I had, I would never be where I am today. The man who I am looking for is strong too, but gentle. He’s someone strong enough to stand in the storm with me, and gentle enough to hold my hand through it. And this guy is definitely not him.
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Thinkstock photo via AntonioGuillem.