This one’s for the single ladies (or gentlemen) who find themselves not only chronically sick, but chronically single. I almost titled this post “girl interrupted”, but for me it’s not like I ever had a steady healthy life to interrupt, it’s more like health troubles have been the gremlin to the airplane of my life since my teen years.
Tonight for reasons I cannot even reconcile to myself, I started watching one of those “reality” (cough) dating shows tonight. I really hate most of these shows because they are not anywhere close to reality, the men tend to be immoral, shallow, narcissistic… The women are trashy, vacuous, desperate, catty…..
I will only say I am watching (hopefully) a slightly better one on A&E, but still… This behavior is unforgivable. As I watch these people who for their own various reasons subject themselves to the world of online matchmaking, it made me think of loneliness and desperation and the lengths people will go to to find love and companionship.
Being chronically ill can be incredibly lonely, whether you have close family or not (thankfully I do❤️). And like I have talked about in past posts most C.I. People see both friends and family walk away as illness goes on. Even if you are somewhat functioning that doesn’t mean that dating is easy or possible. Most people have avenues to meet others that would fit their criteria for a significant other. But what about the chronically ill? Even for the “functioning” chronically ill this may be close to impossible.
I function; meaning I am not bedridden and I can hold a job, that doesn’t mean every day isn’t a struggle, but I do. But functioning in what’s required of me means sacrificing everything else, and a lot of the time there’s not much left of me. What is hard to navigate is that I seem to have a few months every year when things seem pretty good; I have better energy and start being social again, being able to exercise, and feel reintroduced to my own humanity. It’s in these times I think “well maybe I can start to think about finding someone”, but then inevitably things take a dive again and I go back to survival mode, bare basics, just getting by. For me I took another dive right at the end of May and I had to start saying no again to social activities and almost everything outside of working.
How does one date a hermit? In my personal experience I guess they don’t.
SO WHEN YOU ARE SICK YOU:
YOU CAN’T MEET ANYONE
Firstly you would have to actually meet someone. But how if you don’t go out? There are no weeknights out with friends. There are no group social activities. Church attendance may stop. Any weekend activities like hiking or day trips may be too much. And what if you feel like you both look and feel like crap and just the stress of even thinking about getting yourself presentable and putting on a good face is too much? It’s so much easier just to sink back into isolation because self-care and life period is enough to deal with.
FACE IT, YOU ARE HIGH MAINTENANCE
If you are chronically ill it is exhausting being you, how much more so for those closest to you? I see how close family is affected by the ones they love who are ill, and it’s a horrible strain, especially when there’s no end in sight. But these people already know and love us. It takes a long, long time for new friends that come in to my life to “get it”, even the ones who are sweet and understanding have a hard time grasping that what are normal activities for them, even their daily routines, are not apart of my life and not possible. It takes people time to see that while your body may look okay from the outside it serves as your prison of pain and fatigue.
But how would you approach a possible new partner with your life? (We are assuming that somehow you have made it past the first hurdle of actually getting out). I mean, I wouldn’t want to date me! I wouldn’t want to deal with someone who is always going to say no every time I ask if they want to go out and do something. I would get frustrated when I would want to talk and visit and they are just shutting down at the end of the day and don’t want to talk. I wouldn’t want to bend my life around someone who can’t eat out, can’t be active, would inhibit me at every turn. I wouldn’t want to be tied to a person who could never fully support themselves and who would drain me financially with medical bills. I would tire of all the health talk, all the time.
Run boys! You don’t want this.
YOU AREN’T ALL IN
I am not present for other people the way I want to be, a lot of the time I am exhausted dealing with me. I do try, I am an uber-communicator and reach out to others all the time and do the best I can to support others in their struggles and try and be diligent in prayer for my friends and family. But I can’t imagine having a spouse and trying to be there in the capacity that they would need. I may not be able to hold up my end in a household, or relationally.
More than that when I am going through a hard time physically I am fairly aware that I go through not quite being myself mentally or emotionally as well. Whether it be more inflammation on the brain, or toxins or whatever, I am well aware that my ability to rationalize or consistently think clearly is affected. I also lose the creative and motivated sides of myself. So in a very real way I am not fully myself.
Back in December I went to hang out with a new friend one-on-one for the first time (just a friend) and later he said that he felt he had to drive the conversation. Firstly I was a little a nervous, but what he didn’t know was that although I was in a better cycle with my health, I was in pain, and had some brain fog… That’s the worst because you are searching your mind with what to say, proper responses, and adding new threads of conversation, all the while using a micro machete to cut through cobwebs in your head. You may seem okay and even fully alert objectively, but they don’t know you are fighting through a few obsticles to put on a normal persona.
Friends that have known me a while can tell a definite difference between clear-headed me and me on the days things are foggy. You see if you don’t know me it looks like my personality is different. If I ever seem quiet and a little shut down its because I literally am, but it’s not my personality or choice.
So how do you begin a new relationship like this? Well if you figure it out let me know.
So thankfully although I have days here and there of longing and loneliness, something broke in my spirit with this last round of ill health and I am no longer looking for marriage and family… It just doesn’t seem possible. Can God make it happen? Yes I know He can, and if He drops someone on my doorstep (and you know it has to happen this way because I don’t get out) that would be an unexpected joy.
So a shout out to my fellow U.I.I.S.’s, for now we will just hunker down, survive, take care of ourselves and (for me) serve God the best I can with what limited spoons I have.