Relationships with IBD

Last updated: February 2018

Friends have come, friends have gone – this is a hard one for me to talk about. Sometimes I feel like I don't have support & resources in others besides the people I’m close to that I travel with for advocacy projects. Family attempts to understand in their own way and then you’ve always got people/family/friends who believe that ignorance is bliss. And I’ll be hurts. But I know that those people cope differently than I do, and if they were in my shoes, their journey would be way different – because everyone’s is!

The thing about living with any type of serious illness, especially one that can frequently cause unpleasant hospital visits, is always feeling like I'm the inferior, needy one in a relationship. In the past, I’ve always feared that someone won’t want to tolerate it – my sickness and all the complications that come with it.

I mean, does the average person know that living with IBD can mean monthly visits to a GI, collecting your own stool sample at home?

Or really, do they actually WANT to know about the bowel and bathroom symptoms we deal with and how often they occur?! I’m preaching to myself about stigma right now because it seems that often, I’m a hypocrite. I’ve always dated people who know I live with IBD
because I'm afraid of judgement and lack of understanding, and because when I did date others, I had some bad experiences.

Many years ago, after some injustices and trauma, I decided that dating just wasn’t for me. I isolate myself and for a very good reason. Not necessarily to keep people out, but more to protect myself. There came a point in my life after graduating college and not knowing where my life would take me, and after two very failed relationships when I decided what I really needed...was to work on loving myself. It was a hard pill to swallow, especially because I had been literally swallowing so many pills for so many different diagnoses. I intentionally cut people out and cut ties with people who I knew would only make my fragile mental and physical state worse. And honestly? It was the best thing I have ever done for myself.

For the last 5 years, I have expressed more love for the person who really deserves it – me.

This may sound selfish and I admit it is. It took me nearly 30 years to learn how to actually care for myself, especially with the additional tasks of dealing with disease, and caring for others for a living. I have served people in their darkest of times, their lowest of lows and I have found peace in seeing how my service has positively affected them.

My prince charming may not be wearing a crown, he may not even be wearing fancy clothes. He may even find himself in similar circumstances rebuilding his life like I am mine. There will always be some people who don’t want to deal with something that they know can/will throw a wrench in their plans. That’s their issue. I may have had bad experiences with people running who were terrified because of how sick I have been in the past. But I have hopes that if God wants me to find another piece of myself in someone else, he will let me – whether I am sick or celebrating remission. And I hope to celebrate other’s health milestones with them too.

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