Dating and Chronic Illness: Am I too sick to date?
BY GREER ALEXANDRA
About 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Leaky gut, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Candida which recently turned out to be linked to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). My health suffered following my work as a flight attendant traveling around the world. I thought it would be a quick recovery, however, it ebbed and flowed over a few years and I am just getting to the root of the problem now.
Through my illness, recovery, getting sick again etc. I soon realised that what I was going through might not be a quick process and full recovery would take time. I had to learn to be patient and kind to myself as there is no quick fix.
Whilst I was recovering, men came into my sphere but because of my belief about illness and relationships I put dating on hold for a long time. I felt unlovable, unworthy and I felt silly for expecting someone to understand what I was going through and love me despite it all.
This period of my life taught me a lot about self - especially love, kindness and patience towards myself. Through this process, I actually started to make improvements with my health - I mean I still experienced symptoms, however, there was a lightness to them and I felt an improvement.
Soon the idea of dating surfaced again but in a different light. I felt different about giving it a go. Instead of wanting to date to meet someone “special”, I wanted to get to know people again. I knew despite what I was going through I was still the happy, fun woman I was before ...I just have more depth now.
“You have a lot to offer people. Even though you might not feel like it most of the time”
- Greer Alexandra
The truth is I learnt so much when I started dating again. Not only about others but about myself and my health. I don’t believe our life needs to be totally on hold whilst we are sick as our sickness can be a motive to live a more aligned life.
So I wanted to share with you 4 lessons I learnt from dating whilst recovering from my chronic illness.
Learning to love myself
Loving myself during this time was absolute key. No one was going to rescue, fix or save me and I didn’t need to be rescued fixed or saved. I had to make peace with what I was going through and work out what worked best for me.
This without a doubt meant ALWAYS doing what I needed to do to stay on top of my health. Not having to over explain, or doubt my recovery to anyone and that included a new lover that might not have fully understood what I was going through.
Loving myself involved accepting where I was, what I had and trusting that I was making the right steps forward in my recovery. This was my base, my foundation and a very important one for healing.
My self love tips
Accept the present moment as is - try to not react to everything as a negative, instead, ask yourself “what positives can I glean from this situation?”
Be aware of your inner critic and when it shows up always know that you have the choice to return to love - your thoughts become things so when your inner critic shows up choose to be kind, patient and loving
Listen to your feelings and emotions in the most loving way possible - treat yourself as if you would a good friend
Understanding my own fears and beliefs
What dating brought up for me was all the fears that were subconsciously holding me back from making some meaningful connections. My fears were super loud at the beginning.
You are too sick
They will think they will have to look after you
No one likes the sick girl
You won’t be any fun
You will be annoying asking for different foods at the restaurants
My biggest fear. You will not be seen as attractive and they will not want to be with you intimately.
That last one always threw me but deep down I knew it was completely irrational. My fears stemmed from my digestive issues because suffering with IBS, candida, leaky gut isn’t the sexiest feeling condition on this planet. Then again what is.
First things first. I had to get clear with myself and this lead to questions.
What do I want out of this dating experience?
Is this for connection or boredom?
I am lonely and am I ready to date?
Am I ok with taking things slow?
Also, questions regarding my health were important too.
How do I really FEEL about my illness?
What do I truly feel about me? This was a big one, as it can shape the relationships we allow ourselves to get into.
Every encounter I learnt more about who I was and who I wanted to become and I adjusted my beliefs along the way. If I didn’t start to date I wouldn’t have known that I had any of these beliefs subconsciously holding me back.
Learning to speak up
When I first started dating again I was so nervous because I thought I would appear like a high maintenance partner. It can be challenging but the most important lesson I learnt was to use my voice and speak up early on.
I had to pick restaurants. I had to order the salad without this and that and be fussy without being embarrassed. I had to sometimes stop half way through sex because of pain. However, I had to remind myself that it wouldn’t be like that forever. This taught me it was ok to be vulnerable and to trust that the other person would understand.
I was fortunate to have supportive partners on these occasions. I grew confident knowing when someone or something wasn’t right for me and trusted my intuition when I knew relationships weren’t progressing in a way that was aligned with my true intentions. I didn’t let my illness cloud what I truly deserved.
Becoming confident in myself
A guy I was dating once said to me “Greer do you know what is really sexy? Having Confidence”. He adored my body and adored who I was as a person. I began to realise that my inner critic was the one telling me I was disgusting and that my illness defined me. This woke me up to the kind of mindset I had during connections with the opposite sex.
So building my confidence was the biggest lesson for me. It can be hard when you have an illness or any condition. I had to feel confident that I will recover and that this is just a phase in my life that requires positive self-reflection. I learnt to welcome and accept compliments, to love myself and build a good rapport with who I am and what I am going through health wise.
Now this doesn’t mean that I can’t have a bad day when it comes to my illness but learning to not attach too much meaning to those days and be kind and loving when these days arise, has been life changing for me.
My self confidence tips
Daily meditation and self awareness practice
Positive affirmations for my body, thanking it for ways that it is working
Getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people, trusting myself
I don’t believe you have to wait until you’re completely recovered from chronic illness before you start dating. I’ve proved to myself that there are benefits from being open to dating whilst dealing with health issues.
To summarise, dating has taught me to:
Practise more self love
Break down my fears
Speak up and find my own voice
Be more confident in who I am
I hope these lessons and reflections help you and give you a bit more clarity if you are wanting to date again. Truth be told, it does come down to your mindset even if that does sound cliché.
Sending you happiness as you re-enter the dating world and I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes.
“Life took her by surprise, the things that once troubled her started to make sense.”
Greer Alexandra is from South Australia, Australia. She is an aspiring writer and an advocate for a well balanced life. She enjoys writing about her experiences and connecting with people from around the world through her inspirational blog, memysoulandi. You can connect and follow along with Greer on Instagram or at memysoulandi.
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