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To My Valentine: Thank You for Accepting Me as I Am, Health Challenges and All

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Dear Valentine,

Before I found you I was scared that someone wouldn’t love me in spite of all of my health problems, in spite of all of the baggage I bring with me to a relationship, but in the midst of that fear I found you. There are many reasons you are my valentine this year, and more than the fact we are dating. You are my valentine for a great number of reasons, some normal and expected, others specific to our situation. I realize our situation is unique for want of a better word, and I refuse to tolerate the term “normal.” I have been called out as abnormal for a many number of reasons over the years, and some of those reasons impact our relationship.

You are my valentine because you embrace my autism. You have never treated me differently in light of my Asperger’s, not even for a minute. When I finally came out to our friends, half accepted me, half rejected me and a few people said “they could tell” based on stereotypes rather than my symptoms. You didn’t show any real reaction at all, which is why your reaction was my favorite. Nothing changed. I don’t think to this day you have ever really mentioned it, if you have it’s only ever been as a part of me and never as a negative. You accept my obsessive tendencies, even encourage them towards certain anime shows so that we can both enjoy. You understand I don’t do well with hints or uncertainties and never complain when I just need to be told things outright. Even when I have to be told a few times to get the message.

man and woman smiling together
He visited me every day to make me smile.

You are my valentine because you accept I can be “needy” a lot of the time. You know about my trauma, my post-traumatic stress and you accept it. You don’t get mad or question it when in the night I reach over to touch your nose to triple check it’s just you, you don’t ever laugh at me when I need to triple check behind me when I walk up the stairs when I get scared someone is behind me. You always are kind when we are trying to pick what film to watch and I reject all the usual favorites because I feel fragile that day and I don’t want to trigger any attacks. You never get mad at any of these – instead you hold me and let me know I am safe.

You are my valentine because you visited me every day I was in hospital, and drove me there yourself at least once. You have held my hand through some of the most painful experiences I have ever had and never take that hand away no matter how hard I squeeze. You ask questions about my endometriosis and my health, you want to learn and to understand. You never let me over-exert myself when I am bad, you remind me to save my spoons and go and grab me medications or heat up a heat pack for me, anything to save my spoons. You remind me of my limits while encouraging me to accomplish more despite the pain. You never question my pain; instead you offer more support than half of the doctors I have seen.

man sitting next to a woman in a hospital bed
He visited me every single day it was possible when I was in hospital and constantly made me laugh.

In short, you are my valentine this year because you have shown me what love is. That love is patient and kind, and that you accept me just the way I am. Whatever my mental and physical health have brought you were never scared off. I am the way I am, and you are support me all the same. Most importantly you never loved me despite my illnesses (mental or physical) – instead, you have loved me with them.

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Originally published: February 11, 2018
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