When Chronic Illness Is a Deal Breaker in Relationships

“If you’re still sick by New Years, I think I have to consider breaking up with you.”

I was sitting across from my boyfriend in a coffee shop and all I could do was look at him with a blank stare. There have been many moments in my life where I have felt completely out of control, this was one of them.

“No pressure. I want you to focus on getting healthy and I don’t want you to worry – but this is where I’m at.”

When you’re in a new relationship it’s all walking on air and it’s if the whole world is new. For me, while I was incredibly happy with the person I was with, it was also the beginning of my relationship with chronic illness. I was able to keep little down food wise, and my good days were far and few between. I valued the good days I had with my person and took any time I could get. Although I was happy and content, there were many terrifying things beginning to happen to my body that I did not understand. My relationship was one of the things making it bearable and keeping me grounded through it all.

A week after that conversation in the coffee shop, my boyfriend broke up with me. All I could fixate on were the things wrong with me, and when I was finally diagnosed, the things about me that I had now labeled “deal breakers” for relationships. How could I possibly have a relationship with all these newfound complications? I began an unbearable self-destructive spiral as I was beginning to believe that I was only worth what my body could physically do. Even though I’m a loving supportive person, how could that matter when I struggled to balance standing up some days?

The scars from that relationship stuck for a while. I went through a few self-destructive relationships thinking that they would help me feel some sort of better. Each time I would eventually retreat out of fear my physical ability would not be enough for someone. What I’ve come to find through the experience of it all is that it is important to me to be able to face the illness without someone holding my hand. There are times when it’s just my illness and I, and I’ve learned to be OK with that. I’ve learned more about how my illness works and the ways in which it is predictable and the ways it is not. I have the life-hacks in place. The tricks and other things that make my life work with an illness in the picture.

I have many people that have loved and supported me through having an illness and many people who have gotten lost in the “deal breakers.” However, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not see myself as one.

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