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What the Man Falling in Love With Me Needs to Understand About My Health

I became single last year.

It was both terrifying and liberating. I’d been on my own for long periods before and that alone didn’t scare me. There just seemed to be so many mountains to climb: juggling all the kids and my health, both physical and mental. I had no room for anyone else, and who would want a sick mom of four, anyway?

How do I even begin to explain what my life is like, when those who have been in it forever sometimes struggle to understand? When do you tell someone that you are chronically ill, broke and relentlessly struggling to find the path to somewhere self sufficient?

I pride myself on being exposed and honest about my health, but as an opener, “I’m sick all the time, sometimes can’t walk, and I have no money. Oh and I also have four kids” is hardly an attractive proposition to many potential partners.

So I didn’t try.

I chatted to people casually online (but not on dating sites) as my true self, honest and open about my life, but omitted my health issues.

I was lonely. Really lonely.

I am blessed with incredible friends and family, but I needed to be here constantly for the kids. No one else wanted that job, so it was me, every second of every night and day. Alone. Exhausted. Trying to discover how this new life and family would work. I needed to find who I was again. Talking to strangers really frankly helped me with that. I gradually started to remember who I was, aside from a mother in crisis. I spoke about the work I’d done as a university lecturer and writer, my love of the sea, music, food, film, singing and reading. I spoke about my children, my family and friends. I spoke about my dreams, hopes and fears.

But not my health.

The thing is, while my conditions are omnipresent and in some ways define who I am, they aren’t all that I am.

I am so much more than my list of diagnosis, but eventually I had to share that list. It began to feel wrong, like I was lying about this big part of me. The truth came about organically, as I felt myself falling for a wonderful man.

I had to warn him and tell him to run for the hills before it was too late. “This is your chance to change where we are heading before you truly love me and my health consumes you, too,” I told him. “You can leave now. I won’t judge you.”

If you fall in love with me…

It will be one hell of a ride. An adventure. A heartbreaking journey.

A roller coaster of the highest highs and the lowest lows.

Sometimes you will walk beside the most gorgeous, fit and healthy looking woman. The next day you will be pushing an exhausted shell of a woman around in a wheelchair, lines of pain etched upon her face.

If you fall in love with me…

Sometimes you will stand beside the most joyful, happy, positive woman. A fierce warrior, who grabs life by the balls, takes risks and truly lives. The next day, that same woman will be overwhelmed with pain, desolate that tomorrow has passed and the reality of being so sick has taken another precious day from her.

If you fall in love with me…

Sometimes you will lay beside a sexy creature that loves with great passion and ferocity. The next day you will barely be able to hold her, her pain is so great. You will be able to do nothing more for her than lie and look into her sad eyes, and just “be.”

If you fall in love with me…

Sometimes your love will take you on the most exciting of adventures, powering through the waves, hair blowing, muscles throbbing as the salt water hits your body, collapsing in a heap to eat watermelon and drink Prosecco on a secret beach.

Kirstie sitting on a paddleboard.

The next day you will have to carry  her up the stairs, help her up from the toilet, and cry with her as she tries to survive another tough day.

If you fall in love with me…

Sometimes you will look at me and see everything you dreamed of: a smart, strong, fit, funny, fierce and attractive woman.

Sometimes you will look at me curled in a ball in bed and feel utterly hopeless as that same woman is lost to pain and sadness.

If you fall in love with me…

Sometimes you will burst with pride and look at me with awe, wondering how I am still smiling.

Sometimes you will look at me and feel so helpless, the tears will flow.

If you fall in love with me, your life will be forever changed.

Follow this journey at You’ve Gotta Have Gumption.

The Mighty is asking the following: What do you want your past, current or future partner to know about being with someone with your disability, disease or mental illness? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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