Loving somebody with a chronic illness is hard.
I’m not going to paint the pretty picture everybody hopes for when they find out their loved one is a bit more complex than they originally thought. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. I’m not going to tell you that nothing is difficult if you love the person. I’m not going to tell you anything like this, because it’s simply not true.
Take it from someone who has a chronic illness. I live with myself every day. I have for 22 years. It’s hard, and I’ve had years to adjust to it. It’s tiring. It’s tough. It breaks me down sometimes. I wish I could have a new body when mine misbehaves. So it’s unfair for me to say that loving me will come naturally. Hell, I’m still learning how to deal with myself on a daily basis.
You will not always understand. There will be times when I am going through something that you won’t even be able to fully comprehend, because my chronic illness is something you will (hopefully) never have to experience firsthand. You will feel frustrated when I retreat into myself.
You will feel angry that the world is treating the one you love poorly. You will feel helpless and hopeless when you can’t do anything but watch me struggle. You will be annoyed when I can’t explain what I’m feeling properly because not even I know what’s going on half the time.
I will have doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment. Sometimes I’ll sleep an entire day away. Sometimes I won’t want to talk to you or anyone at all. Sometimes I’ll forget to eat. Sometimes I’ll be in the hospital for days at a time, and sometimes you’ll have to drive miles after a long day at work to be by my side.
Sometimes I’ll want to spend every second with you, even if we aren’t talking. Sometimes I’ll push you away. Sometimes I’ll be hot, sometimes I’ll be cold. I promise I’ll do my best to be consistent, but I can’t promise that I will be able to do so every time something happens to me.
Loving somebody with a chronic illness isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes it’s a walk through a dark tunnel with no light in sight. Sometimes you will feel lonely, and sad, and self-pitying, and angry, and a bundle of other emotions. This is okay. This is understandable. This is hard. But I can promise you something else – that pushing forward through the hard times will be worth it.
I will love you more than words can say. I will love you unconditionally, because I know your love for me is unconditional, too. I will stay through the dark parts of your life the way you stay through mine.
I will hold your hand when the going gets tough. I will be loyal. I will trust you with everything in me. I will make you laugh and smile. I will do everything in my power to express how grateful I am, because, though I am not a burden, I know what it’s like to be in that tunnel.
And the next time you’re in that tunnel, I promise I’ll be there to hold your hand throughout it.
And when I am healthy? It will be magical. It will be rewarding. You will feel lucky to know me, somebody who can bounce back from the depths of a medical crisis like it could never possibly hold me down. You will feel relief. You will feel light. You will feel my love radiating through my body and warming yours. You will feel thankful that the world decided to let up and let me live happily, if only for a moment. You will feel ecstatic to experience such joy with me.
So, no, loving me will not be easy. But for every dark tunnel, there is a light at the end. Walk with me through it hand-in-hand. I promise it will be worth it.