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Why I'm a Chronically Ill, Single Mom

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Being a single mother with multiple chronic illnesses has made my dating life definitely a tad more difficult than it was in my 20s, or before I had a child to look after and protect. It has also made break ups more difficult – and I am not just talking about with my emotions, but also regular day everyday life because of my physical limitations. It’s become easy to feel stuck in situations that make me unhappy.

Arthritis has, however, given me an idea of the sort of man I do need and definitely what I don’t need. I also really don’t want a string of crappy boyfriends for my kid to remember. Finding a partner with my child and illness makes things a bit more complicated for me, but really if they can’t accept what I have no control over or love in my life, then then they shouldn’t be in my life in the first place.

Being on disability doesn’t pay well. I have various physical limitations that I am still getting used to, which makes life a challenge. Add in taking care of a 5-year-old while trying to make every precaution to not mess him up? Life you can say, is overwhelming.

A partner is something I both crave and need, not only for myself – but for my child. Parenting while sick is no walk in the park, with or without help. However, I am not willing to settle with just anyone, especially someone who doesn’t respect my child nor illness. I am constantly hearing, “I don’t know how you do this on your own.” I do it because having the wrong partner makes it more difficult.

I remember being the immature young naive girl searching for that perfect deep connection that would tame the brokenness inside me, true love. Guess what? No one can do that except yourself, and it’s really hard to create a connection with someone when you hate yourself.

Your negativity is what drives people away from you, even if you don’t realize you are doing it, or if you can’t admit it to yourself.

The energy of a child and chronic illness, however, do not match. My heart continuously breaks each time he says, “Mom, I wish you weren’t sick so you could play.” I push myself through pain and fatigue so he can be happy, the love for a child is incomparable to any other.

When I go for treatments for my arthritis, a common question from healthcare professionals is, “Do you have support at home?”

That question each time hits me right in the gut every time I am asked it. Well, my 5-year-old supports me in an adorable 5-year-old way. No, not really and it sucks.

It also made me realize my latest relationship wasn’t for me. I never really thought of men who want to be taken care of by their woman completely because I have always been very affectionate before arthritis. I liked the idea of being a housewife because I used to enjoy cooking and cleaning, until arthritis made that painful and difficult at times. I question if I would make a good wife or girlfriend. In reality, I am the one who needs to be taken care of. I am the disabled one. A partnership should be working together, not against each other, and most certainly not against my child. Some men will be jealous of the bond and attention you give your children. Jealousy can turn someone ugly real quick.

Unfortunately people don’t come with warning labels and can be pretty damn good at acting to get the hooks into your heart before show their true colors. That, and at first when you are la-dee-da in love, it’s easy to only focus on the positives in a partner while ignoring any red flags. Sometimes they might be subtle, unrecognizable, or new because something about them just doesn’t jive with your illness.

Their response to when I ask for help is major to me. Being disabled I will always have physical limitations and possibly more along the way as my diseases progress. I don’t know the future, but how someone treats me when I ask for help is an indicator if I am going to keep them in my life or not. When they start to use your illness against you, your need for the security they provide you is a sign that it’s about to get toxic for you – and when you are ill, you have a lowered immune system to bullshit.

I want to grow as a person, a mother and hopefully into a career of my choosing. I don’t want someone who will be holding me back. I need someone who inspires me, keeps me moving and keeps me healthy. I take my health very seriously. I would hope in return so would my partner, and they would also take their health seriously.
I hate how lonely chronic illness makes life, but I refuse to settle or be treated poorly, I would rather be alone.

Getty Image by SeventyFour

This story originally appeared on Chronic Eileen.

Originally published: June 1, 2018
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