The man I love and I have been together for a decade this week. 10 YEARS he has tolerated my terrible jokes, cat-voice and ownership of the toilet. A SAINT of a man.
When I first met him, we worked together, and I was a relatively healthy and active 22 year-old. Well I’d say, ‘officially’ healthy at that point; no doctor had diagnosed me with anything, but I still felt like something wasn't right with my body about 60% of the time, it just wasn't really an imposing issue at that point. We managed about 5 years together as a ‘normal’ couple before my health took a massive slide. I'm no Maths whiz, but by my calculations, for around half of our time together I've been ‘diseased’.
In the first few months after I’d become ill, everything was a blur of anger, frustration and pain. Getting to the bottom (pun always intended) of what was slowly killing me became my sole priority and my love-life and everything else took a self-imposed back-seat. I feared I’d lose my job and feared I’d lose my life. I feared My Love would inevitably realise he’d unintentionally hitched his wagon to a horse who turned out to be dud.
Living with chronic illness can make you selfish. Not in any way intentionally; but patients will find they are often taken over by a single-mindedness to either get better, or simply to hibernate and close off from the rest of the world when feeling at our worst.
My Love is thankfully a patient man. In ways I often don't realise. He is tender and kind; qualities I know I far too often take for granted. I probably don't notice the majority of the things he does for me; too wrapped up in my own pain.
I'm ashamed to admit that in the earlier days of my illness (and even more often than is fair, now), I’ll expect him to play mind reader and somehow know my pain, know what every twinge and jerk meant, know how I felt and what I needed; then if he read me wrong I’d internally curse him for his inability to jump through my invisible hoops. Knowing this cycle of behaviour often doesn't make it any easier to cut out either.
Chronic illness is unforgiving and relentless. It’s impossible to ‘grin and bear’. That doesn't excuse treating the one you love with a disposition they don’t deserve of course. My frustration, (and I'm certain I am not alone in this), is mainly in my inability to ‘heal’ myself. My future often feeling bleak, and my loss of ‘self’. Disease takes so much away from you that you are left piecing your jigsaw back together and finding there’s always a missing part. The picture never looks as it should.
When you are ill, and sad, and feel alone even when you are surrounded by people, you can be left feeling you are not worthy of love. I know, (although I sometimes have to remind myself of the fact), that I too am worthy of everything good in the world and more. I want that for My Love and for us. My disease shouldn't define me, or stand in the way of my relationship. I’ll aim every day to continually appreciate the man I share my life with gifting me his care and attention, and remember that love is two-way. Well for some maybe three-way but that’s for a more X-rated blog.
I don’t love my disease of course, but I do love what it has taught me about my own capacity for it. Limitless and immeasurable.