Happy Sunday folks!
This is a long one so go grab a cuppa tea or a G&T (no judgement) and settle in! If you are single and struggling I promise it’s worth it. Winter and the holiday period can be hard enough when you’re a single lady, add in chronic illness and it can be a total shit show. Or in our case, a blood bath (sorry I had to).
I didn’t start dating until I moved to London when I was the ripe old age of 22. Prior to the move I didn’t have the time, or the energy (you can read more about that here and here). When I moved to London I thought there would be a new big wide world of dating for me to discover. Well, I was in for a very rude awakening. To help ease me into the world of dating I started off with Tinder, and wow. If you’re also experienced with Tinder then you know that’s not a wow of amazement. It’s a combination of disgust, confusion and wonder of just how sleazy guys can be. It is a numbers game though and after swiping right enough times you’re bound to find one decent person! (Right?)
Funnily enough it was endometriosis that led me to the first guy I dated properly in London. It was during my recovery after my laparoscopy the year I moved here. There are only so many TV marathons one can watch before they need to switch things up. And in my case I switched it back to Tinder. I had some serious time on my hands to dedicate to swiping. I will never forget my first Tinder date, it was so awkward! And the second wasn’t much better! Time went on though and I was eventually charmed off my feet and floating on cloud nine.
Now disclaimer time, things are about to get graphic so here’s your chance to look away! We were having sex one night at mine, the lights were off and I started noticing things getting a little too hot and sweaty. I ignored it for a bit but something just did not feel right, I didn’t have my period so what could it be? I turned the lights on and I nearly collapsed on the spot. There was blood EVERYWHERE. I was absolutely mortified, there was blood all over us, my white sheets…I honestly thought one of us had been badly cut somehow and I just hadn’t realised. That or someone had been murdered.
I could not get my head around the amount of blood there was. He could not have handled it better, he was so lovely and did absolutely nothing to contribute to how horrible I felt about myself. How could I not feel sick to my stomach after my body had done that to me? I followed up with my specialist and a cause was never found, it was just put down to trauma caused by intercourse.
This experience, though I didn’t fully realise at the time, would influence the way I would interact with every guy I would come to know in the future. Late spoiler, things didn’t work out with Tinder guy! At this stage I hadn’t fully come to accept my conditions on my own, let alone with a guy in the picture. It had never even crossed my mind that endometriosis and adenomyosis would affect my dating life. I became so ashamed of myself that I put up a barrier to every guy I met, online or otherwise.
Every single I have ever dated has said the exact words ‘you are closed book’. I know for most of them it’s a throwaway comment, but each time I hear those words its like a punch in the guts. There was nothing I wanted more than to open up, but I didn’t want to talk about my endometriosis or adenomyosis. I felt as soon as I did they wouldn’t want to be with me. Too many times have I downed some painkillers with a shot of vodka before leaving for a date so they wouldn’t know anything was wrong. With most of the guys it got to the point where they were tired of the closed book and moved on. They wanted a mystery they could solve.
There was one guy who I really thought was something. I was at the point where I was comfortable enough to finally take my nightly meds in front of him for the first time. Now of course he had no idea that this was a huge thing for me. He asked what they were for, a completely reasonable question at this stage. But I completely froze, I shut down and physically couldn’t talk. I had no idea what to say. Yes I was comfortable enough to take my meds but actually talk about why I need them? Oh hell no! I had no idea how to introduce someone to endometriosis and adenomyosis. I still don’t think I do to be honest.
The guy thought I was giving him the silent treatment, which I suppose I was in a way. I eventually came out with it in the most awkward way possible. I gave out some half gibberish explanation of endometriosis and then shut the topic down. The next morning things were still awkward AF. I messaged him to try and explain and he responded saying he didn’t want to see me anymore. I was pretty gutted, but not totally surprised. To this day, with every new guy I see I never expect it to get serious. This is partially due to anxiety and partially due to these conditions which caused some pretty low self-esteem which I have only really started to truly recover from in recent months.
If you’re still with me, well done you! Go and grab another G&T, I really should have told you to get a double at the beginning.
What I have learned from all of my experience dating with a chronic illness, is actually not that different to dating without a chronic illness I think. The most important people in your life are not the guys you date. Until you find the one, they come and go. The people who are in your life day in day out, they are the most important people. I can tell you right now I have already met my soulmate, my best friend Amy. These are the people you should be making time to see this festive season. Instead of thinking, I wish I had a boyfriend to do this or that with, think what friend haven’t I spent quality time with in a while? Most importantly, do not be afraid to be alone. If this idea scares you, that’s okay. It used to terrify me and it took a lot of hard work to change that. It can be done though, you can learn to own your illness and not be afraid.
This might sound like I’m in denial but I really do feel like that I’m single right now. I have had the best fun with close girlfriends, I’ve learned what is most important to me and what I want from life. I’ve learned self-care behaviours that work best for me. I’ve identified what in life contributes to my happiness. And one the best parts? I got online and joined the most amazing community of women who have inspired me to strive for goals I never knew I had. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an ongoing process. But I probably would have never learned these things if any one of those guys had worked out.
I want you to know that if you are suffering from a chronic illness and are not in a relationship it’s okay. I know it can be so hard to be on your own sometimes. It can be heartbreaking not to have someone with you in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep because it feels like you’re being stabbed in the uterus with a knife. Hell, I know what it feels like to wake up with that pain at a guy’s house, pretend you’re hobbling because of tight muscles and then have to high tail it to emergency. Please know that you are truly not alone though. You have family, in whatever form it may come. You have people who care and are here to support you. Even if they are people you have met online. One good thing about endo is that there will always be someone else awake in the middle of the night!
If you are looking for additional support I have listed a few organisations below, but please comment if you know of others!
Thank you for sticking with me through this week’s post. I didn’t mean for it to be this long but sometimes I open my mouth (or start typing) and the word vomit just won’t stop!
Until next time!