One of my stranger quotes about life is “I would rather live with MS and be free than being healthy and locked up in a cage”. For people in healthy relationships, hearing my motto for life can be somewhat gloomy or outright ridiculous. After having been in a relationship where my feelings mattered less and less as time went on, I realised that perhaps I would be better off alone. When I finally made the break, I felt revived and as if I could carry the world on my shoulders. Atlas, one of the great Greek Titans, I am not, but it sure felt as if Hercules himself carried me forward.
Seeing friends or family stuck in relationships that should not be, my resolve to be single is my greatest challenge. Being a romantic soul does not seem to stroke with wanting to be single, and neither does being an old romantic soul. You know the type, the one that wants to be chased and the type that wants the man to make the first step. After having been the one to chase a few times, I now want to just experience being chased again. Questions in regards to having a relationship and my illness do show up though as I often think of friends who have children, and I wonder if choosing a career over having a family was wise, especially when diagnosed with a chronic illness. But it matters not.
Living with MS, degenerative and progressive, sometimes feels as if there are two entities living inside my brain. MS… and myself. MS wants to progress and make me more and more dependent on medication, hospitals and loved ones but I want to stay utterly, utterly independent.
Those who know me say that marching to the beat of what is considered normal is not something I am always willing to do, especially when my freedom is considered. However, I am not MS and MS is not me. It may reside inside my brain but that is where the relationship ends. I accept it is there, but it will not make me long for a relationship just to be in a relationship, or to have someone present to care for me day in, day out. Utterly independent indeed.
When I was diagnosed, ‘Why me?’ questions only lasted for about 5 seconds, not even long enough to think of an answer. ‘Will I die because of it?’ questions only came to the fore after surviving a superbug that tried hard pulling me into my six-feet-under. ‘Will I end up in a wheelchair?’ does seem to pop up every now and then, but not enough to lose any sleep over it.
As you can tell, I have my illness figured out pretty well, but what if a potential boyfriend decides that he will make up his own mind after, you can guess, ‘informing’ himself based on hoax stories about MS on the internet? Will Mr. Loverman walk away? Run, perhaps? Jet off to newer pastures because he figures that having a girlfriend with MS is just not something he will ever be able to accept?
In fact, over the past 4 years or so, two potential boyfriends essentially did decide they couldn’t handle my illness. If they cannot handle it, what do I have to do/say when I am the one living with that illness inside me? Is it selfishness on their part? Lack of understanding?
I strongly believe Mr. Right is out there, and that he will understand, hope for me and be there when MS does decide it’s time to up the ante. I have time on my side though. And the will to fight every second of every single day. More than likely I will remain standing on my own two feet with a wheelchair nowhere to be found. And that is not something to be afraid of.
©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.