Why I Questioned If My Chronic Illness Made Me 'Unworthy' of Love


About 20 years ago I accidentally eavesdropped on a conversation that I am both glad I overheard, and wish I never had. I was about 16, and was on a summer girl’s camp hike. Everyone was in good spirits. Then a couple of moms and chaperones began a conversation as they walked in front of me. They probably never knew I was even there.

I won’t relate the whole conversation, but I will paraphrase. One of the ladies was talking about how her son had fallen in love, but wanted to know if he should end the relationship because he wasn’t sure he would marry the girl. She had chronic migraines. The mom’s advice to him was to break it off with the girl, because God wanted him to have a healthy wife, “Not a sick wife who couldn’t be the wife he deserved, and the mother his children needed.” The second woman agreed wholeheartedly with the first. The boy should break up with the girl for the soul reason that she had migraines and therefore was “sick.”

Now, here is where I tell you that I have been suffering from migraines since I was 11 years old. I was always a sickly kid, I missed a lot of school because of various infections, pneumonia, stomach problems, and so on. So anyone that can put two and two together can see that this event caused me a ton of distress. Suddenly the sun stopped shining, the breeze seemed cold, and all of my joy and peace had fled. My last couple days of camp are a blur, I was depressed and just wanted to go home to cry.

I was “defective” and “broken,” who could ever love me? If God only wanted perfect people and perfect parents, I was doomed. Both of my parents struggled with migraines since they were kids, were they broken too?

When I got home I cried to my mom and explained what I had heard and was feeling. She was furious! She immediately went to my dad and railed, holding me as I cried and she yelled. My dad was even more livid. They tried to impress upon me that I was not, in fact, broken or defective.

While I did feel better after hearing my parents rant about the situation, and that most people do not believe what these women did. Our church did not teach this. They loved me and God loved me just the way I was, or I wouldn’t have been made they way I am. I have always had this incident close to the surface of my brain.

Whenever I would tell a guy I wanted to date that I had migraines, I would wait for the rejection to eventually come. Whenever the “A-bomb” would go off in my head after I became a mother and couldn’t stay in bed. Every time my now ex-husband would berate me for being lazy because I dozed on the couch while the kids napped instead of doing chores. I let myself fall into the trap that I was worthless.

Then, something miraculously happened. I met my best friend. When we were working together he noticed that I had come in to work sick on more than one occasion, so I told him about my migraines. He took care of me every time after that. He was angry at how my then spouse treated me, not just when I was sick, but all the time. He let me know I wasn’t defective, and that it was other people who were broken.

As my best friend he listened, offered advice, praised my sacrifice, and told me he thought I was an amazing mother. I started thinking that maybe he was right, I wasn’t broken.

Soon after, he helped me take my kids and escape my abusive ex. He became my strength at one of the hardest times of my life, and we fell in love. There are times when my head rebels and I am left crippled. He takes care of me, even to the point where he has crashed on the floor, holding my hand, after I have passed out on the couch following one of his amazing cranial messages. He is always right there if I need anything.

He was there when I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. He has always been there to take care of me. That’s not to say he hasn’t ever been frustrated when my migraines and and flares chase each other through my body for days on end, leaving him doing everything. (By the way, he has chronic back pain caused by degenerative disc disorder and arthritis. Making taking care of me a dozen times harder then it should be.) But he understands, he has been battling pain since before I met him. And he knows I will be there to take care of him.

I’m not a bad mom. Can I be better? Yes. But when you can avoid all triggers, and do everything right, and still be laid low by your pain – you do what you can. I am not broken. I work full-time for now, my children have food, and a couple times a week I actually cook a “real” meal. My family is loved and appreciated, and family time is usually dinner and a movie.

I am not unworthy of love or my family because I am sick. It is ignorant and selfish to say that someone with a chronic illness won’t be a good mother and wife. I have chronically ill and in pain friends that are better spouses then some of the “healthy” people I know. They have their limitations, but they work with and around them. They try harder, have become more creative, and are more passionate then their healthy counterparts.

So if you know someone with a chronic condition, don’t let their illness decide your opinion for you. Get to know them, support them, love them. If you can’t be friends, let it be from something other than their illness. If you are that someone with the chronic health issues, keep going. You deserve happiness. You deserve respect. Find that best friend, the person you can count on. Who will care for and help you.

No one deserves to be cast away because of something they can’t control trying to ruin their life. Be strong. Soldier on. Don’t allow anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough or perfect enough.

You are a star! Shine on!

Originally posted on Awesome Kitchen Witch.

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