“Show me what it looks like.”
“No, I don’t want you to.”
I was terrified.
“You don’t have to be afraid,” he said.
Oh, but I was – every single day.
Those words came from my boyfriend.
He promised me I didn’t need to be afraid of what my skin looked like.
But little did he know how bad it really looked. My entire feet, ankle, and legs looked burned.
I was covered in rashes — and not the pleasant kind.
Even I was disturbed by it.
“This is so unfair that I have to go through this,” I thought to myself.
I felt like an embarrassment, not just to myself, but pretty much…everyone.
I was letting my boyfriend down. I was letting my workplace down. I couldn’t even meet clients without my entire face and neck covered in rashes. I felt like an embarrassment to every new person I met.
I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. Makeup wouldn’t even cover the rashes. There was too much texture.
My face and body were covered in scabs. I was living in so much pain and agony because of the rashes. It caused me not just physical pain, but emotional pain (the depressive, suicidal kind).
I felt like such a big failure.
Deep down inside, I was afraid that my boyfriend would stop liking me – or worse – that he would leave me. We had only started dating 2-3 months ago. Our relationship was so new. And it was fresh.
I felt like I had already ruined it with the way my skin looked.
“Don’t be afraid,” he assured me again.
I remember crying in the middle of the night.
I had seen people end relationships and get divorced because of eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). This type of eczema entrenches every part of your life – and sadly, not just yours, but also the ones around you.
It affected my boyfriend’s life and my family’s life.
Even my brother had cried over my condition before.
I felt flawed.
“What is wrong with me?”
We did everything in my power to heal. I sought nutritionists, naturopaths, and doctors who could help me with my condition.
And one day – it slowly started getting better.
I remember visiting my naturopath for an appointment one day.
I will never forget the words he said: “Abby, I’ve been seeing you for 2 months already, and this is the first time I can actually see what your normal face looks like.”
Tears welled up in my eyes. I will never forget those words.
He continued to say, “Most guys would have left or gotten scared to be with you with your condition, but the fact that he stuck with you through this… is really rare.”
It’s true. If you saw what I looked like, you’d be scared too.
Eczema stole so much from me. It took away my life. It really robbed me of so much joy.
But in the midst of it, I found so much love.
I discovered what loyalty meant.
I found a love that never left me.
I learned that I was worth loving, despite what I looked like.
Not all relationships have sad endings because of this.
So I decided to make a wise decision: to marry him.
This year will be our 8 year anniversary.
Within those 8 years, I also birthed 2 kids.
One of them was born on Valentine’s Day this year, a day of love.
It’s a reminder that no matter how tough and difficult life gets, loyalty and love can carry you through. Even on the worst day, life can still be beautiful.
Never give up.
There is hope.
There is love.