We still chase perfection, not only in of ourselves but also in our partners...and, when you have a chronic illness, that laundry list of "must have's" turns into a paper barricade for true love. In fact, one rumored statistic even claims that 75 percent of marriages involving chronic illness end in divorce.
The more I thought about love this Valentine's Day, the more I wondered: is that why I'm always looking for the next, greatest fix? I know I'll have celiac disease for life. That's just a fact. But I also know that my food journey has been full of different "panaceas." Low-processed paleo. Low fodmap. Plant based. Yoga to aid digestion, charcoal pills to help with gas (or being glutened) and too many hours spent researching online to count. Maybe the idea of "better (chronically ill) body on the other side" isn't necessary just a search for greater self worth. It's also a desperate attempt to creep closer to that acclaimed 100% healthy...and then be 100% worthy of love.
Because, when I'm honest, I know I have niggling doubts about my "date-ability," as one could call it. I can't be the girlfriend who can meet his family for Thanksgiving dinner without lugging around my own Tupperware feast. I can't be the girlfriend who can randomly try out the new Chinese restaurant down the street or accept a kiss without asking, "Did you brush your teeth?" And when my fibro flares up, I'm not exactly the most exciting of company...and you probably won't find see my gussied up in anything than an old T-shirt and thrift shop shorts.
I've shared nervous first dates, both, ironically enough, at Chipotle. (Because what says romance more than "burrito bowls to go"?)
|PF Changs is a close second for date night...|
I've tasted first kisses, last kisses, in-between kisses (and still many more kisses to explore, I'm sure).
I've imagined what having a family would be like...even if I'm still not sure what kind of children those would be.
I've been told I'm beautiful - when I don't feel it. I've felt like I'm beautiful, even when no one is there to tell me.
I've fallen in love, tripped over broken hearts and had others fall over me.
|When you almost face plant while photographing yourself...|
Because I don't need to be able to eat "normal" food to have a date night. I don't need to be ignorant of daily pain to also know moments of daily joy. I just need to learn to love myself enough to let someone else see me for all of my faults - and love me through them.
And isn't that what Valentine's Day - and love overall - should really be about? Giving up the chase for perfection and enjoying time with the people we adore instead. Enjoying the chocolates instead of worrying how you'll work them off. Laughing that your boyfriend forgot to trim the thorns before handing you the roses...again. Maybe even enjoying the whole day to yourself, and not feeling jealous when you see couples walking by, hand-in-hand.
I don't claim to know what love is or to be an expert on relationships. But, from what life has taught me so far, I do know this: I don't have to be 100% healthy to be 100% worthy of love.
And if that isn't magical, I don't know what else is.
Happy (belated) Valentine's Day everyone!
*Also found at Terrific Tuesday, Wine'd Down Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, RunningwithSpoons, Share Fest, This is How We Roll*
What do you think about finding love with a chronic illness? Tell me your thoughts - and love stories, if you like! - below. :)