Chronic Illnesses have many layers and effect many different area of our lives. One of those areas that is always tough to think about or talk about is being loved. I spent most of my teenage years believing I was unloveable.
As many of you know, these past couple months have been significantly tough on Jared and I. I mean if we are being honest things have been tough on us for a long time. Now some of it stems from things such as timing, financials, family situations, etc. just like the rest of the world- but most things have been tough because I blessed with three chronic illnesses.
No, I am not being sarcastic- I am blessed. Do I feel blessed right now… no, but I know that if I didn’t have this illness Jared and I wouldn’t be the same couple (and honestly we wouldn’t have probably gotten together at all.)
Recovery periods give you lots of time to think. Sometimes that is good because we need time to grieve and process, other times we allow ourselves to get too into our heads. These past couple days I have been a bit too into my head. These are the times that we turn healthy grieving and processing into typically unhealthy irrational thoughts.
When I was around 13, I really liked a guy. Now I wasn’t allowed to date so we were just good friends. We never kissed but talked a lot and were very close. He was the first guy I was very close with. He had his own issues and we were young. I met him right after I graduated from the PPRC, and was getting back to my life. He met me when I was happiest, because I had just gone through months of misery, and at the time I was victorious over the RSD/CRPS. Little did I know that a mere nine or so months later that I would go from being loved to becoming “unloveable.”
A couple months into our “friendship,” I relapsed and was struggling with the RSD/CRPS. To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about our time together, but what I do remember is the ending. Thanks to my old journal entries, I can tell you what happened without relying on my memory! This guy became suicidal because of a family problem and after almost losing a close friend to suicide I knew I had to say something. I told my parents (who work with suicidal teens) and they called his family. We didn’t talk in this time period.
A week after that, I got a call from him. In the conversation, I stood by my ground and explained why I told someone about his suicide plan. Things got really nasty after that. He knew that I had struggled with anorexic tendencies after gaining weight from my injury, and how I was trying to get my dancers body back. He proceeded to undercut me and let me know that I was fat and would never be anything- but that wasn’t what crushed me. Now I am not saying that those things didn’t hurt me, but they were incomparable to what came next.
After he talked about my weight, he hit me where my biggest insecurities were… my chronic illness. He knew that I was always concerned that this illness would be too much for someone and that I would end up being alone. That’s when he said the words that haunted me for years, “You will never be lovable with a disease like this.” I felt like I couldn’t breathe and the wind had be knocked out of me. From my journal entries, I know after that there was silence. I broke the silence and mustered every bit of courage I had and said that, “I had to go and I never wanted to hear from him again.” The I hung up.
I sat in the corner of my room in silence with my knees to my chest, and after about 5 minutes I started crying. My parents came up and we talked, but I chose not to tell them what he really said that hurt me. Little did I know that his ending statement would cause so much harm.
For years after I hurt, and no one could understand why I was so devastated over losing this guy. I felt so ashamed of myself and I was so angry with God. How could He turn me into something unlovable. I felt worthless, and the place I found worth was on the wooden studio floors. From then on, I did not want anyone to get involved with me because my health would just “hurt” them.
Two and a half years later in walks Jared Nolin. Part of the reason I was so standofish towards him was because I believed I was unlovable. Obviously we started dating and eventually this part of the conversation I had with this guy came out. I ended up also telling my family and coach and they couldn’t believe it. Some even apologized for being so hard on me when I couldn’t seem to get over him. My mom and dad got mad at this guy all over again, but I assured them that it was okay and I was okay.
Now Jared and I actually had to work with a therapist at one point because of that conversation that happened years ago. I went through a phase in the beginning of our relationship where I wouldn’t be honest with him about my health. I was so scared. I was scared he would leave if he knew how bad things were. Yet I was with a guy who wanted to be with me when he couldn’t have any physical contact with me- other than a fist-bump- because of my skin sensitivity. I know I was crazy for not listening to him, but things resurface when we are triggered. Having someone love me like that was a trigger. We had to really work at it before I was comfortable with opening up. Even now- years later he sometimes will subtly reassure me that he loves me despite these illnesses when he sees my anxiety creeping up.
If you are going through this with your significant other, I encourage you to be honest and vulnerable. Your spouse is just as confused (if not more) as you are about navigating a chronic illness and relationship especially when you don’t keep them in the loop.
Your chronic illness will never make you unloveable.
If Jared and I have learned anything it’s that when we don’t explain and communicate about our frustrations and fears, we add unnecessary tension to our relationship. You are with your partner for a reason, and they have stayed by you for this long… why would they leave now? Now I don’t know how your partner feels or what they will say, but what I do know is that you are lovable and worthy of love.
I promise you are not unlovable and neither am I.