Why You Don't Need to Be 100% Healthy to Be 100% Worthy of Love

As a child, Valentine's Day is one of the most magical holidays of the year. It's the day of true love and Prince Charming and fairytales. As we grow older, though, the romantic daydreams start to lose their shine. We realize love is more complicated than finding the perfect glass slipper...yet, somehow, we still expect ourselves to fit the role of princess (or prince).

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.

Casey the College Celiac shares how you are still worthy of love when you have a chronic illness.

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.

And yet.

I've shared nervous first dates, both, ironically enough, at Chipotle. (Because what says romance more than "burrito bowls to go"?)

Casey the College Celiac shares how you are still worthy of love when you have a chronic illness.
PF Changs is a close second for date night...
I've watched the sun set over the ocean as I huddled against a new body for warmth.

I've had another family welcome me into their home - even when I eat my own gluten free dinner out of a lunch box while they enjoy homemade pizza.

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.

Casey the College Celiac shares how you are still worthy of love when you have a chronic illness.
When you almost face plant while photographing yourself...
I'm not 100% healthy, and I will never be. But I've still been in love, and hope I'll find it again. And, deep down, I know that I am - and anyone with a chronic illness is - worthy of it, no matter the doubts that pop into my head.

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.

Casey the College Celiac shares how you are still worthy of love when you have a chronic illness.

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 FestThis 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. :)


  1. I loved this so much. I've been in love before, and with chronic illness it feels so tricky. My high school boyfriend probably *would* have understood if I'd been more forthcoming about my issues, but I usually just pushed myself to get over it and act 100% okay no matter what. That was before I was really comfortable with my illness. I didn't make that mistake again with my college boyfriend, but then he kinda just pitied me all the time and I couldn't deal with that.

    I realize that it's really hard to understand what it is be like to never feel completely okay. I am pretty much always in pain, and when people find that out... it takes a very special person to be able to treat me normally after that, ya know? My family and I joke (but it's true) that for being as laid back as I am, I'm really high maintenance... and hopefully one day, some guy is willing (and happy?) to put up with that :P

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Ellen. It can definitely be hard to find someone who can accept who we really are - illnesses and all. And you definitely will find a guy happy to put up with it! As I always say, I'm very low maintenance...except when it comes to food!

  2. Cute post :) I think health means a lot different things to different people and that the love you wish to find goes beyond health/wellness/abilities- ideally. It's a tricky challenge to find that love but so much worth the wait :)

    1. Thanks Shelby! So true that people have different definitions of health!

  3. This is so true on so many levels. My now husband and I went for our first date walking the dogs, and I thought it would be like any other relationship. Three days later I was diagnosed with Cancer, and this many who had only seen me once stuck by my side through it all... through the treatments, the surgeries, the being sick from pushing my body to the limit, the re-occurrence scares, and the complete change to my new 'normal'. Despite it all it didn't make me any less worthy of his love, and our relationship is still strong (coming up on our 5th wedding anniversary this year). Its hard sometimes mentally to wrap my head around it all, but when I stop overthinking it all, I have my partner in crime by my side.

    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca/

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Britt! That's amazing and so heartening to hear that your relationship was strong enough to weather through all of those medical storms. Stay healthy and happy :)

    2. I was happily married when I found out I had Celiac, and it was four years later when my 7-year old son found out he had Celiac. My husband, I have to say, stepped up to the plate 100%. You see, he's the one who does the grocery shopping in the family and he painstakingly read each and every label to make sure he'd keep me (and later 'us') healthy. Today, he's a professional grocery shopper who can zip in and out of a grocery store with gluten-free products (oh and my body can't handle xanthan gum either, so he's added that into his 'can't buy' list). I have to say he has been 100% supportive, oh so patient, and very understanding. I guess my point is, you WILL find love, and you WILL find someone who can put up with all the stuff we, as Celiacs, have to learn and live by. There is a real love for you out there and you WILL get many more kisses! Thanks for posting such great articles. x

  4. I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately, and so read this article on The Mighty (No Shame) when I found it, despite not having Celiac. I have FM and ME/CFS. I rarely have much energy, don't go out much, and my circle of friends is fairly small. I'm unable to work, so my over all 'circle' of people is small as well. But, I'm a loving, kind, funny, bright (most days) person who is lonely. I would love to fall head over heels with someone and want someone to feel the same way about me. I'm 67, have been single most of my life but also don't want to spend the rest of my life alone. For several years my only outside social groups have been an all-female support group and a 12-Step group. So, where does someone like me even start? How do I even meet people? I also have this big fear that even if I found someone to date, I'd be too tired to stay awake through a date, or suffer for days afterward because I've gone out and had a great time. I'm totally stuck and don't know what to do about it all. I actually met a wonderful guy about a year and a half ago. We had tons in common, enjoyed each other tremendously, both of us had chronic illnesses (different ones), were sexually attracted to each other. After lots (a couple of months) of talking over the phone because both of us were having health issues and then the holidays, and we just couldn't get together, talking about seeing each other again, etc. he decided it would not work because 'our hours are too different'. He's an early riser, I'm a night owl, and he has more energy than I do and doesn't sleep as much. I was heartbroken, despite knowing that my circadian rhythm issues are a pain in the ass. We've stayed friends and talk occasionally in person, but mostly by text and Facebook. I miss him terribly and the feeling of being 'not good enough to be a partner' is often strong. But, I haven't completely given up, just don't know where to begin to make things better. COVID fears don't help this whole situation. Thank you for your article!


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