To continue on from the last post about discussion Crohn’s with your friends, this post shall discuss how to explain Crohn’s when it comes to a relationship.
I’ve dated three people since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease back in September last year. Two have ended, the current one is, well, still current and on going. All three have taught me something about how to deal with a relationship, a man and having Crohn’s Disease. I use initials here to protect them.
I met J on New Years – my first official outing as a new Crohnie. It was a lovely relationship, he was a nurse and knew alot about my condition. That being said, words were not exactly his foretay. Being newly diagnosed, I was having a tough time adjusting to all these new things around me – returning to work, maintaining my old friendships, all these symptoms I was having too: insomnia and stress and depression – I wasn’t exactly feeling great. I wanted taking care of. But I fought along side him to maintain my independence too. It was doomed to fail; I was far too fresh to all of my feelings, I hadn’t had a chance to really understand the facts.
Lesson Learnt: Don’t assume someone who had knowledge about your condition knows anything about you or how you deal with you or how you present as a Crohn’s patient. Unless they know you – for who you actually are – they don’t have a clue. And that, is not their fault, nor is it yours.
I was still seeing J when I met T and B. T was my next boyfriend. B became my best friend. It was a good situation for a while, I had the most fun when I was T because my condition wasn’t an issue. We spent some time being just friends before being to date: we were both apprehensive about starting something new so soon after what had came before. It was going great until he decided it was too much, that my lack of talking about my Crohn’s was causing too much of problems and he wasn’t a strong enough person to be with me. That my future was far too uncertain and far too unpredictable to ever be more than just a casual thing. End.
Lesson Learnt: Talk about your condition. Please, for the love of God, talk. Even if it’s just snippets and they are simple and easily understandable, talk. There is nothing worse than avoiding your condition all together. I was in some sort of denial at this point, and being with T was a distraction, it made me feel ‘normal’ again. I am not, and I never will be. I’ve finally made my peace with it, and forgiven him for his words. Sadly, there are people out there who just aren’t able to cope with a sick partner. Let them go and move on. Someone will find you amazing, sick or healthy. I promise you that much.
That brings me onto B. Ben.
We were amazingly close during my relationship with T. Some would say, too close. But I liked being his friend so much; we talked for hours about silly things to make me forget about the Crohn’s, and we spent an equally great amount of time discussing Crohn’s things: my hospital trips, my depression, my scans, my fears about the future, my lack of energy, my desire for another hospital trip when I was really down, and my Humira. Nothing was left out. I laid myself bare to my friend.
Shortly after things ended with T I began to question myself; I was just beginning my counselling sessions and I was desperate for some answers as to why I picked such inappropriate men. It literally crept up on me, my feelings for Ben. We shared our first, albeit drunken, kiss the weekend of my 24th birthday in April, and haven’t spent much time apart since. Moving from friendship to relationship was hard, and it made me doubt why I didn’t see this sooner.. and sometimes I think back to how it was before and wonder how I took so long. Then, I look at him and think, yes, this is a good man. He makes me smile and he takes me for exactly as I am, at face value. He knows I’m sick, having been sick and probably will get sick again, but that can be dealt with when it comes to it. He calms me down, he knows me. Because I let him.
Lesson: Let someone help you. I am a great advocate of being your own person and helping yourself, but some times, something has got to give. Giving in someone might seem like a challenge and tough as hell, but it is worth it. That connection, it’s worth all those bad days and all those ill suited people who came before him.
I’m not saying that a relationship when you have Crohn’s is easy, nor am I saying it is impossible; it takes as much effort and work as the next relationship, but being alone with Crohn’s scared the life out of me. I dealt with everything on my own the first four times I was in hospital. I’m not doing that again. And its not out of need or necessity that I found Ben, it was just chance. We stay together because we want to be with each other. Through it all, good and bad.