Finding Love When Chronically Ill
Updated: Feb 15, 2018
"This is the moment when a handsome stranger should settle down next to me. Not perfect, but with a face touched by the most endearing flaws that would only add to the attraction. He would try to get my attention, but I'd be certain he was talking to the tall slim girl on the grass, the one in that figure hugging dress that didn't conform to the loose fitting ball dress category... but wasn't a cling-film thin clubbing dress either. I wait on the decking, my pink-laced black leather converse tucked up on the step below me, arms resting on my legs and their 10 denier 'light' tights that still seem to lend me a tan. I sit there and wait for the moment to be what it 'should' be, without really knowing if that's what I actually WANT it to be."
Hi, I'm Sakara. I am 17 years old and I wrote the above paragraph as a 16 year old at my friend's 6th form ball. I was thinking about young love. The young love in young adult books, the love where the almost-perfect boy chooses to lavish affection on the shy girl, the 'weird' girl, the... Sick girl.
I don't have a boyfriend, never have. I can't say I was ever obsessed with finding a great romance when I did attend school (I now study from home), but I have felt left out at times.
I've spent time imagining how I could meet someone through this friend or that, through that interest or this social media platform. I've wondered what he'd be like. Sure, I'm straight and have fancied boys but I've never felt like going out with any of those people would have ended well (aside from that one crush who probably would've been fun...). At seventeen there is an added worry: university. Most people I know are going. I can't go. Could I really keep a relationship going while I want to be out partying (and staying in for study nights, of course!) with my partner but knowing I'm not up to it or am miles away at home while he goes off to his chosen college? Could I trust him not to get bored? Could I blame him for getting bored, drunk and finding someone else who was there when I couldn't be?
Is a relationship really worth all that self doubt and worry? I suppose yes, if it's the right relationship I wouldn't need all these imaginary worries. Maybe I'd hold on to some but they would be overshadowed by the magic of love, right? I might seem to be permanently boyfriendless but that doesn't mean we all are! I know many people who are chronically ill and dating, engaged or married! It's by no means impossible, it just comes with extra challenges.
While thinking how hard it is to find love as a chronically ill person I suddenly realised something: I am writing this to share on Chronic Love Club. If you're reading this you probably know that it's not a dating site for spoonies! There are so many different kinds of love, often found in the most unexpected places!
Even if you (like me) are fond of the idea of love showing up when you're not really looking, some effort is generally required. Since I don't think I can count a trip to the garden center with my parents as going out on the pull, it's probably not that surprising that I don't have any romantic love in my life right now. However, here are a couple of alternative loves I can highly recommend:
Love for pets! If you can't or don't have any animals then substitute this one for gazing lovingly at official club mascot Big the cat (also DM me if you're interested in joining my cat burglar squad -see what I did there??- our primary mission is cuddling Big away in the middle of the night when Michelle isn't looking, shhh!*)
The love of friendship: I live in England. Three years ago I never could have guessed I'd now have best friends in counties hours away from me, let alone sending packages and long distance hugs to Ireland or that overdue letter that really should've been sent to Australia by now! Not to mention a planned Skype call to Canada...
Chronic illness makes finding love difficult but other times we find love through or because of it. Not being "normal" encourages us to step (crawl/hobble/wheel) out of the boxes many people build around themselves. Difficult situations pour cold water over all that cardboard and force us to look elsewhere for comfort, community and LOVE. We have to be creative if we want to have a social life. We have to support each other and find love in unexpected places.
A lot of the time if I read those last few sentences I'd just stare blankly at my screen, unable to believe there could be that much random love in my life. It's difficult to focus on the unconventional amazingness in our lives when stereotypical situations are constantly being thrust upon us through social and general media. That doesn't mean all our different loves aren't just as valuable as romantic love, though! They are at the very least equally important.
Wishing you could receive love letters? Why not take your mind off it when Valentine's day rolls around and send some notes about the place to your friends. Dreaming of snuggling up with a loved one at night? Cuddle a cat (they purr) or a tortoise (they don't make you sneeze). Planning your wedding before you've even secured a first date? Stop! Plan a sleep over with a friend (cat), grab a bucket load of face masks (cat treats) and doodle cosy pyjamas to give your wedding outfit ideas a break.
Whatever kind of love you wish you had, chances are you have an equally amazing kind in your life already. I'm not saying we should all throw away our party gear and resign ourselves to a life of pjs, meds and cats (although that doesn't sound too bad when I put it like that!), just that if you don't have what you want right now that doesn't mean you never will or that you can't have love in your life without having THAT kind of love.
Sakara lives in England with her parents, two rabbits and a wandering cat. She was diagnosed with M.E. when she was 5 and has been attempting to rest (which she's bad at and her body doesn't appreciate) and dream her way through life ever since. She enjoys learning, persuading animals to like her (food is key), drawing, nature, singing and -of course- blogging.