Relationships are tough in of themselves, but when you’re dealing with a relationship while also working on re-building a strong relationship with yourself is the toughest.
There have been many discussions and articles written by IBD’ers and how they handle romantic relationships and relationships with friends when their disease process or suffering seems to be coming to it’s peak. I’ve heard many awful stories of significant others disrespecting the person who is already sick, feeding off of their insecurities in order to make themselves feel better.
There are those amazing, supportive people out there who are willing to take the good with the bad, but they are hard to find these days. Especially after everything that inflammatory bowel disease puts you through, both mentally and physically.
The good news is the physicality’s of the disease can be managed and put into remission. What’s left is the emotional toll that the disease takes on you. When I was sick, going through surgeries and now recovering, I still find that my emotions get the best of me sometimes. Has my disease changed me? Yes. In good ways and in bad. I am a person who wears their emotions on their sleeves. As one of my best friends described to me on the phone, “You never hold anything back. You are the most upfront person I have ever met.”
To me, that is a compliment. I know that I am strong willed. Even more so after my surgeries and ostomy. I know what I deserve out of life and out of a man and a relationship. Why is that so difficult to find? Is it something that I am personally doing wrong? Or are some of my fears so blatantly obvious to some of the insecure people that I have chosen to date?
I continued down the abusive road with my UC knowing that someday I might find a strong enough man to balance out my hopes and fears for what my healthy future might look like. I always believed that I deserve it, I still believe that. But why is it so hard to see that you aren’t getting what you truly deserve. When the fog of love and passion are so thick, that even the cruelest words that come out of your loved ones mouth become just a comment that you ‘overreacted’ to.
In past relationships both romantic and friendships, I have chosen to be open and honest about what I went through and how it affects my daily life. I am very honest when I say that some of my anxieties aren’t that easily forgotten. The saddest part for me is thinking back on situations that I have been put in lately, where those fears have been used against me.
I’m sharing this because I know I cannot be the only 25 year old girl who has not only been emotionally abused, but also taken for granted and sucked dry of any shred of confidence I once had. Hm, for a second you would think that I was talking about ulcerative colitis.
But maybe that’s why my choices in relationships haven’t been the best. I was in an abusive relationship with UC for 2 years. It’s still ongoing. I’m still trying the “No Contact,” rule, ignoring UC’s late night phone calls that are telling me I need the bathroom or that getting in the car will only lead to disaster. I’m still healing from the fact that my UC told me I would never be normal. Never have the chance to live the life my friends are living, have the energy to wake up some days, laying on the bathroom floor in such extreme pain you don’t think you can go on another day.
That sounds like heartache to me. And it was. It was painful, abusive, emotionally tolling. Kind of like my last few relationships. Like my UC, I trusted that these relationships would get better. When they didn’t the pain would rear it’s ugly head and I would be pulled back into the vicious cycle of my abusers, whether it be UC or a boy.
I’ve been told recently that my fears that are a catalyst of my disease are stupid and that I need to get over it. That I’m over dramatic and over sensitive and crazy for thinking anything such. That I need to move on with my life and not act so crazy when I’m in a situation where I’m uncomfortable.
Ouch. That’s some rough stuff to hear from someone that you trusted with your darkest fears. Even discussing insecurities that I’m having trouble getting over in the moment. Like how difficult it was for me to look in the bathroom mirror at my body before I showered. The pain I would feel in my gut was like something I had never felt before. Opening up and discussing those insecurities with someone who claimed they loved me was hard. Especially when they threw the comments back into my face, asking me if it was because I looked at my ostomy as, “The Predator,” with, “Stuff coming out of your stomach.”
But they were just joking right? It doesn’t matter. The trouble with dating the wrong person after such an incredible experience like having an illness is that we may attract people who seem amazing, interested, supportive and accepting on the front end, but then turn out to be Judas when it comes to caring for your emotional health.
Anyone who dates someone with IBD or with a jpouch has to know that fighting with them or making their insecurities seem invalid is not only abusive to even a healthy person, it is detrimental to their battle and recovery. Right now, I feel amazing health wise. My bathroom trips and pain are diminishing and I am back to working out and feeling great. Unfortunately, it’s taking my emotional health to catch up. I still struggle with anxieties about getting in a car or being away from a bathroom. It’s tough to get over, but I know I’ll get there.
Having someone tell me that those feelings are, “stupid,” is not only hurtful, its truly heartbreaking.
Getting into a bad relationship with IBD is such a set back, and quite honestly I’m angry that I allowed it to happen. It makes me so nervous that no one will ever truly understand that I have to live a life that doesn’t involve emotional abuse or bad habits and addictions of any kind.
I know that I am not alone in this. There are so many patients who are sicker than I am who still put up with emotional and verbal abuse from significant others. The day I found out I had to have my colon removed I was hung up on and yelled at!
I left that relationship with my head held high, knowing I deserved better. This time is tougher.
I found myself second guessing my own character, sanity and anger issues at the expense of this person. What?! I’m shaking my head as I’m typing this at the fact that I allowed it to happen.
Just the other week I heard of a female patient having surgery and struggling with her disease, who has a boyfriend that tells her the same lies that mine told me. That she is stupid for being insecure and nervous. That she ruins his nights because she can’t go out and do anything. That she makes his life so boring and that his life is being ruined because of her disease.
Wow. I can hear and see how awful that is. Why is it so hard to stand up for myself in the same way? It’s difficult for patients with IBD to give up on something they love. People with IBD are passionate perfectionists and can be very caring in nature. I know this because not only am I one of them, I talk to patients all over the world who have given me more strength and validation than any many I’ve ever met or dated.
My question to myself and others who are struggling in awful relationships that also have IBD is, when is enough truly enough? How far am I seriously going to allow myself to be pushed before I know that this is a pattern that is hurtful and terrible for my health and well being? When will we figure out that this is NOT going to get better? No matter how hard we love or how bad we want to fix the other?
I still have hope that someday I will find that person who lifts ME up. You will find it, too. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your fears are stupid, or that your feelings don’t matter. Because they do, healthy or not. That’s enough to drive any healthy person straight into the psych ward. I read a quote the other day that really is staying with me. “When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them the first time.”
Anyone with IBD will tell you, ESPECIALLY me, that life is too short for mind games, gaslighting, blame shifting or addiction issues. No one should be given a second chance that makes you feel any less than what you really are.
Stay tough and be true to yourself. (I’m secretly saying that to myself constantly :)…