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What Endometriosis Taught Me About Love

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“It’s been hectic. And I’m totally spent! Maybe another time?” My thumb hovered over “send.” I erased everything. I typed it again and immediately erased it once more. While I was telling the truth, it was simply an excuse which, to my conscience, was as good as a lie. My lip started to tremble and a scarlet wave rose up on my cheeks. Surprisingly, this had become typical of me, which was embarrassing and isolating for someone with my personality. I didn’t know this scared person I had turned into, but it seemed to be the only correct way to exist anymore.

In stark contrast to those hard feelings, I’d never been the type to sacrifice time with people in favor of rest or alone time. And when I did sleep, there were still mornings when I’d wake up sunburned on a trampoline or on a couch covered with glitter. I climbed boulders with my cousin and made true friends on airplanes. I rode on the hoods of cars and made desperate attempts to see as much of this country as possible with as many people as I could find.

But at some point, more romantic relationships became difficult. Even harmless flirtations, shallow physical “intimacy,” and casual-going-nowhere dates knocked me off my social butterfly of a high horse. And when it came to having an exclusive relationship with someone, I was a wreck.

In my mind, none of my vivacious energy, silly antics, or genuine empathy could compensate for the fact that I had endometriosis. After all, why would I run my fingers through his hair and laugh at all of his jokes when I was going to cry out in pain if it went any further? Why allow someone to fall in love with me when I knew infertility was almost a certainty? In my eyes, I fell short of what men needed.

This led to an unhealthy string of relationships, and some other things that were less than that, which involved me letting my partner treat me however he wanted. I accepted dishonesty, emotional unavailability, and even some forms of abuse all because I felt the need to make up for everything I thought I wasn’t.

My own being had become a broken object to me, something secondhand and undesirable, and I often imagined that I was a recall item. It took more surgery, failed attempts at conception, an abandoned relationship, and finding a deeply beautiful source of spirituality to reverse that mindset. I now know how to love myself better than most women. And I can honestly realize how much I deserve for someone else to love me.

And not only do I deserve it, but it’s likely that I will find it. I deserve someone who doesn’t love me despite the endometriosis but who loves me trials and endometriosis included. I’m my own masterpiece, an original, not secondhand. Surely, someone will believe I’m beautiful. But even if it doesn’t happen, I certainly don’t need it to.

And I’m still the same woman I used to think I’d left behind me (maybe minus the alcohol tolerance and plus a few inches on my waist). Despite the pain and fatigue, I’m still seldom at home. I can tie a knot in a cherry stem. I went to massage school and give a Swedish that’s to die for. Talking to strangers in the book store is my favorite pastime, and friends can still call me at 3 a.m.

Endometriosis taught me to love myself unconditionally. Because of my condition, I learned how to be happy even when I’m sad. And it taught me how to be an even better romantic partner for the men who come into my life. Endometriosis robbed me of plenty, but it’s given me some amazing gifts.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: February 1, 2017
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