"It's not fair!" I repeated this useless phrase to myself multiple times over when I first was diagnosed with Lyme disease. How could it possibly be fair that my life seemed to point to one horrific disease that robbed me of my dreams!? How is it fair that my dream of someday finding true love seemed utterly impossible? All is NOT fair in love and war. Fighting a war against your own body is anything but fair.
I remember throughout my younger years I seemed to be in love with love itself. I loved the idea of falling in love, followed by a whirlwind romance, an extravagant wedding, and happily ever after. That dream seemed sufficient. Sufficient for lifelong happiness? I suppose so. Sufficient for long suffering, enduring to the end, and coming out conqueror with my faithful husband by my side? Well I suppose I never actually considered hardship grinding its way between me and my true love. Unfortunately for me my hardship came long before my true love ever made an entrance. Not only that, but at times it seems as though Lyme disease laughs in the face of love. And alas, "it's not fair."
To Lyme or Not to Lyme
The problem seems to be the never ending string of problems I seem to have. More like eternal string of symptoms, loud opinions, diet restrictions, supplements, and ex boyfriends. It all begins with a spark and ends with a burned out fire, and a few extra symptoms. It all really comes down to one question… “Despite my Lyme disease, am I worth it?” It’s something to consider when deciding the all-important decision of love and Lyme, or love and health?
So am I? Am I worth it? When I suffer headaches, skin lesions, excruciating pain, nausea, weakness, anxiety, etc… am I worth those daily battles? Battles that are not won by one simple gunshot but multiple gunshots aimed all at once. Eternal supplement intake, acupressure, heating pads, hot water bottles, increased water intake, hot baths, dietary restrictions, IV's, injections, detox, detox, and more detox! All of which are highly important battle techniques in fighting Lyme. One alone is not enough to relieve pain. They must all be implemented in order to defeat. Now tell me, what man in his right mind would want such a horrible fate thrust upon him when instead he could have a nice healthy woman who can pamper him to his heart’s content? Most men when given two different roads would quickly pick the easier route. And I do not blame them. It comes back down to that basic question of am I worth it?”
So far… the answer has been no.
Multiple Symptoms, Multiple Men
Throughout this journey I’ve managed to become acquainted with three “types” of men that are willing to date me for a short period of time. Each “type” of man has “symptoms” of his own that should send every woman with Lyme disease running! Lyme in not a disease for the shallow in heart. It simply doesn’t work with these kinds of men.
1. "The Hero"
The “hero’s” symptoms include the constant urge to “swoop in” and save the day! Any chance for them to rescue a cat stuck in a tree, or an injured bird is their cup of tea! This alone is not a bad quality, but when all of a sudden I become the injured bird then it becomes really degrading! I’d like to take a moment to clarify: I’m not a cat stuck in a tree, I’m not a wounded bird, and I don’t need to be “rescued.” I have a disease. This does not mean that I am incapable, or in need of “saving.” Finding my true love isn’t about finding someone to “fix” me. It’s about finding someone to support me. I don’t want to date superman, or spiderman, or batman. I’m not looking for a hero to “save” me. Service travels much further than saving. Forthwith compassion is much greater than “fixing."
2. "The Main Man"
The “main man’s” symptoms include the delusional idea that dating me would be equivalent to those tragically romantic movies about a terminally ill woman who falls in love with some hunk, followed by a whirlwind romance! This guy seems to think that he is the “main man” in my tragic movie plot. For the record, my life is not a romantic tragedy that you find in a movie. What they don’t show in those movies is the horrific pain flares, and the extra effort it takes just to survive the day. They don’t show the chronic migraines and the all over body pain. They don’t show the pure exhaustion, the seizures, or the daily routine of trying to eliminate as much pain as possible. Those movies are unrealistic. True love goes further than marrying someone just before they die of a terminal illness. There’s more to it than that. It’s so much deeper than that. My illness may not be romantic, but lucky for me I am much more than my illness.
3. "The Award Winner"
To the “award winner,” it does not matter the tragedy that is taking place inside my body, because he simply does not care about what’s on the inside. His symptoms include his keen need to win. It’s all about claiming his “prize.” I will always be a trophy to that kind of a guy. Something that looks nice that he can brag about to others, but when it comes to my hardships and my struggles, he doesn’t care. It’s all about him and how he looks, and when I look bad or am too sick, I all of a sudden become “a sacrifice” to him, or “totally crazy!” This guy’s symptoms include his clueless nature as to what I go through on a daily basis. He doesn’t know me. He just knows what I look like. To this guy I’d just like to say that I am NOT your trophy. I am NOT your object. I am NOT your toy. I believe that this man is the most dangerous of them all, because he’s very skilled at pretending that he cares. Well, unfortunately he doesn’t. Heaven help the chronically ill woman who ends up with the “award winner,” because he is definitely not your prize to be proud of!
Lyme that's Real and Love that's Not
In today’s society we all seem to have this delusional idea of what love is. Whether that be the “flawless relationship” which includes “happily ever after” where nothing ever goes wrong, or the sex saturated relationship that is centered on physical pleasure and actually has no correlation with real, true, and pure love. Both of those concepts are a hideously skewed idea of what love is, and with the majority of people thinking that we “fall in love” it’s obvious why it seems impossible to ever have a successful relationship with anybody whether they be one of the aforementioned men above or not.
When you have Lyme disease you learn things that you otherwise would not have known. Like how an act of true love is helping someone walk when they’re in too much pain to do it themselves. An act of selfless love is sitting at someone’s bedside and enduring to the end with them. True love is about walking side by side together, not about one person walking in front of the other. True love is putting that other person before yourself, and working together to make things work. This concept goes for both the sick person, and their healthy counterpart.
Love is not always going to be “rainbows and butterflies.” At times love is enduring to the end. Love is watching the person you care about the most in pain and staying by their side through it all. Love is about compassion, understanding, and long suffering. For we do not “fall in love” as the saying goes. Love is not this frivolous concept in correlation to tripping and falling down the stairs. For to fall in love would make it too easy to “fall out of love.” We do not “fall in love,” but quite the opposite actually. If anything, true love involves “rising to love.” When the person we love needs them, we rise to the occasion! We ascend in kindness, charity, benevolence, patience, and so much more! When looking at love with this perspective it somehow causes us to look at the person we care for with a little more respect, love, and understanding. Lyme disease is real, but this concept of “falling in love” is not. If it was, then every man that so called “fell in love with me” would easily fall out of love when he discovered that Lyme disease is a test of endurance, faith, and so many more divine attributes that at one point or another we all seek to have.
One Man that I Forgot to Mention...
In my aforementioned list of men that we all seem to come in contact with, I forgot one special guy that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting. This guy doesn’t have the negative symptoms of the others. This guy sees me as a human being, not just a disease. A man that strives so valiantly to put God first in his life that in return God blesses him with the ability to love his wife “in sickness and in health,” and “for time and all eternity.” A man who realizes that his strength and abilities come from the Almighty Creator and a man who’s attributes are reminiscent of Christ, our Savior, and Redeemer.
This man sees past my Lyme disease and sees me for who I really am. He doesn’t see me as “crazy” and “exotic” but passionate and wise. Someone who doesn’t see me as “sick” and “a sacrifice to him,” but someone who sees me as strong and a blessing to him, despite my illness. This man has courage, because dating someone like me is going to take a whole lot of courage. We all want somebody who loves us for what’s on the inside. This kind of guy knows how to do just that. This kind of guy is what every woman wants, healthy or otherwise.
True love is incredible. It’s incredible when it’s done correctly. It’s incredible when it is centered on true principles established by God. It is incredible when you have two people, brought together by God, striving to stay together through thick and thin. It is people who love each other so much that they would do anything to strive to be a better person for the person they love.
So is it Really Fair?
Just to clarify, this is not about me bashing on men, women, or dating. This is not about me stereotyping unfortunate courtships, and blaming one person or the other. Not every man is the kind of man in the descriptions above. This isn’t about me blaming healthy people or sick people for the painful relationships that we all seem to have at one point or another. This is me saying that we all deserve better than what we are getting, so should we not all be striving to be better than we are? Better for our future loves, and better for our Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly?
A man who is on a date with a woman should respect her. A woman who is on a date with a man should respect him. It’s about time that men start treating women with respect and love and it is about time that women strive a little harder to become women that are worthy of that “prince charming” that we all so desperately long for!
The problem with Lyme disease is that it seems to place a wall between you and any potential suiter. It’s hard for anyone to look past such a drastic part of my life and see me for the woman that I am. This does not mean that I should give up hope.
So is it fair? I do believe it is. Lyme has somehow helped me to dodge more bullets than one. Lyme has saved me from marrying the villain with “nice hair” and “blue eyes” more than once. Lyme disease has somehow managed to be my own personal alarm system for the guys who think they somehow have a right to take advantage of me. I’ve dated my fair share of “heroes” and “award winners” and quite frankly Lyme has helped me to realize that it’s okay to take time to fall in love with the right person. Love is so much more than infatuation. Love takes time. Courtship is a time to become best friends and discover who you really are deep down.
No doubt about it, all is fair in love and Lyme. So to the chronically ill women who assume that you’ll never find “the one”, keep looking. He’s out there somewhere. Now is not the time to give up hope. I once had a friend of mine tell me that “it’s a good thing you dodged the bullet before it became a tornado, because you can’t dodge a tornado!” Your vulnerabilities due to your illness are very clear, and in a way they protect you from marrying a tornado. Love is so much more than what this world makes of it. You ARE worth it! Don’t give up faith or hope. God will provide a way. True love endures, which means we all can endure a little loneliness while searching for the love we’ve all been waiting for.
And to my future love, I can’t wait to meet you. I suppose life wasn’t meant to be fair, but fairness is irrelevant because I have Lyme whether that’s fair or not. I fight Lyme every day so I can someday make you happy. I fight Lyme so I can heal and be the woman that you need me to be. I strive to be a better person and center my life on God, so someday He will provide a way for me to find you. I may be chronically ill, but I can promise you that I will be the best chronically ill wife you could ever ask for. Not only that, but I do believe that I fight so hard so someday I can get better. I continue to fight so I will heal for you. I long to make you happy. I long to be your partner through life, for time and all eternity. “You lift me, and I'll life thee, and we’ll ascend together.”