Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dating disasters of the immunologically challenged...

It's taken me a while to be able to write this post. I've been mulling over the thought of putting it out there for a while, yet something always kept holding me back. I don't know if its a fear of putting it out there for all to see, or just not wanting to admit defeat out loud, but I know that I can't move forward without putting the past behind. It just occured to me (after seeing the million and one posts on facebook) that tomorrow (or at this point today) is Valentine's day. The irony of that is not lost on me, but after taking the time to gather my thoughts and getting ready to put it on "paper", I'm not going to let that stop me. It really has nothing to do with the supposed holiday, and I use that term loosely. I think my one friend put it best when she was telling us what she'd told her husband back when they were dating. She'd warned him never to buy her flowers or chocolates or anything else on Valentines day. She didnt want his affection to be expressed soley because hallmark was telling him he should. To this day, she will randomly get little gifts throughout their marriage, just because he loves her and wants to show her. So please, don't misconstrue my lack of enthusiasm for Valentine's Day as the bitter musings of a single person. That is not my intent. There's nothing wrong with it, I'm not bitter...not about the holiday anyway... :) But anyway, I'm getting off topic. Back to the reason I started this post.

Just last weekend was the first time I was able to even voice these thoughts out loud. Driving along with one of my best friends, Elizabeth, I shared with her something I'd never been able to admit out loud. I'd been secretly emailing and google chatting with someone I'd met on a Christian dating service. I know, I dating, really? That's what you're thinking...I've thought it too, millions of times, especially during the course of testing it out. I struggle with the concept, wondering if its taking things out of God's hands and his timing, or if its just another tool He would use to help me find the man that he has for me. Its still an ongoing debate in my mind, and one I'm sure I'll never quite figure out. Needless to say, I've taken the time, on a couple occassions, to see what the hype was all about. Just a few test runs on the trial basis, nothing too serious, but I've met a few people along the way. One man in particular, the one mentioned above, had especially caught my attention. He was so sweet and unassuming when we first began talking, apologizing for seemingly pushing for my name, being understanding about the fact that I was obviously hesitant to give that kind of identifying information so soon. The very fact that he was understanding about the whole thing led me to give him an answer. Through the course of our communication, I'd come to anticipate and enjoy our "talks". We'd shared a lot and I was really coming to care about him more than I'd thought I would. The fact that my parents are divorced, and that my father was abusive didn't scare him away like I'd thought it might. He had already shared that his parents were divorced, which led to the conversation, but instead of being uncomfortable with the news of my past, he told me he was sorry I'd had that experience, and that he couldn't imagine what it had been like for me. His acceptance of this, and our continued conversations continued to grow our slowly moving relationship. I was fine with the speed, I was still a little apprehensive with the whole online aspect of it all, and the fact that I'd never even met him.

We talked for exactly eight weeks, and that is when I'd begun seeing symptoms of my coming flare. Its when I told him that I had RA (which at that point was what I thought I had). It's also the last time I ever heard from him. There was no response to that email, no more conversations on google talk. I'd tried to start one once, only to have him log off. I'd sent three emails after the initial one telling him of my condition. One informing him of how my dr's appointment had gone, telling him I knew it could be overwhelming and if he had questions to feel free to ask, I even gave him my phone number. Another to vent my frustration at his obvious avoidance of talking to me at all, and then a third apologizing for my outburst. Still, I never heard from him again. It's been two and a half weeks, but it doesn't make the rejection any less painful to handle. It's sadly not the first time its happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last. The fact that I have to live with a constant health problem is a lot for me to deal with sometimes, much less ask someone else to accept and live with as well. I understand that, I've accepted it, but it doesn't make facing it any easier. There have only been a few guys that I've let get close enough to find out. One of the hardest things about dating for me is knowing the right time to tell someone that I have a chronic illness. I dont tell a lot of people, because it always seems to change things. For some reason, people start to view me differently, Theres a sudden limitation to their way of thinking in what I'm capable of and what I can do. I hate that feeling. I hate seeing people pity me, or think my life is basically over. And I'm really afraid that I'll never find someone who will be able to accept that part of me.

Every relationship I've had, while they didnt go far, ended abruptly when they found out I have RA. One guy in particular, a dreadful blind date scenario, had a similar ending that certain members of my family still attribute to the fact that they thought I wasn't physically attracted to him. Granted, I wasn't in awe, but the very fact that they felt I was that shallow still hurts. Not enough however, to reveal the true fact of why I never heard from him again. Even tho he was supposed to take me out to dinner on my birthday...thats right. I waited for him for an hour and a half with no call and no appearance, before allowing my mom to talk me into going out with her. Ah, yes, another fond memory... (if you haven't caught on by now, I'm a seriously sarcastic person)

I'm 26, and I've never had a serious relationship, not really. There have been three guys, all of whom couldn't get past the fact that I'd told them I had RA. Most people don't even know I've dated at all. The failure rate isn't exactly something I'd like to broadcast...Anyway, through all of my experiences, I find it hard to be myself around the single guys I come in contact with. Friendships with guys who are dating someone else are always easier to handle--no threat at all in that. I've had people think I was flirting when I was just joking around with someone, so I'm constantly overanalysing myself and interactions. I find myself closing down when around said single guys, either because I'm not interested and don't want to encourage anything, or because I find myself interested in someone and afraid it will end the same way the rest of them have. It's a vicious cycle--I know it, but I also don't know how to stop it. Its an overwhelming flight response that automatically kicks in. I know I have to let go of all the pain in my past relationships before I'm able to move forward with anything else in the future. Thats the reason for this post. It's my first step in trying to let go and move on. I've always found writing down my thoughts and feelings to be cathartic. Its one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. That, and knowing there are many others like me, wandering around the bloging world discouraged and looking for someone who understands what they're going through.

I know I've spent quite a lot of space rehashing and venting my frustrations, but be assured I haven't forgotten through it all that God is in control. It may sound trite to some, but the fact brings me comfort. It's what keeps me going when all I want to do is just sit down and cry or hibernate until it all goes away. It's what gives me hope. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." It's my life verse in fact. I cling to the knowledge that he wants what is best for me, and has a lot of good in store for my life. I just have to trust in him and let myself accept it when it comes. I have to stop running and give people a chance. Because the future he has planned for me, is not something I wish to miss out on because I was too afraid. Because I know that when I'm there it will surpass my expectations and truly be amazing. Because thats what his plan for me holds.

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