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After we ordered, he asked me politely about the reason for my dietary restrictions, and instead of evading the question with a vague reference to "health issues," I told him that I have Lyme disease and have been seriously ill for the last three-plus years.As I told him about it, I watched the expression on his face shift to one of interest—interest .I am a single man living with a chronic illness (ulcerative colitis).This makes life tough for me because I have the need to use the restroom at a moment’s notice.In that moment, I got the meaning of vulnerability, which before had just sounded a bit like a buzzword popularized by Brené Brown's TED talk, "The Power of Vulnerability." Vulnerability meant sharing with the other person the was what made him connect to me, because in that moment I became real.When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, the last thing I wanted to do was announce it, even to my social media world.
I wasn't thinking too seriously about us hanging out—just a little fun before I moved away—but the minute I was standing across from him in his kitchen, I knew it was going to be much more than that. He was looking at me so intensely as I revealed this, and I was thinking, I don't remember his eyes being this blue in high school.
“At what point do you tell somebody you are a cancer survivor?
I have had the experience of going out on dates, it gets to the third or fourth date and looks like something might develop, and I tell this person and they disappear.” Indeed, it may seem that a level of understanding between two potential partners can be vastly improved by sharing the same challenges.
This presents weird struggles that most people don’t consider when dating. Over the years, as my hearing has gotten worse, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for my dating/sex partners to run for the hills; to see the insecurity and unease and inconvenience that sit like a fist in my chest, and to finally say, “Enough.”But that hasn’t happened. Don’t let them convince you that you are anything but worthy of the deepest loves. ”What I would encourage you to do is to get really, really clear on what it is you need from partners when dealing with your illness and to communicate that as well as you can.
I am worthless in bars, most restaurants, parties and anywhere that is not a well-lit, quiet room where I can see the other person’s lips. To that end, it’s fantastic to hear that you are proud of who you are, because that is the biggest (and most daunting) step in recognizing that our deficiencies don’t define us. Maybe it’s being willing to lay low or change plans or leave early if something unexpected should arise.