Finding true love when you have CF can seem almost impossible. We CFers know all that we have to go through in order to survive. A lot of times we may tell ourselves that we don't deserve a great partner because of our illness. At times CF can be too much for us, so we figure it will be too much for someone else.
In reality though, being in a relationship means helping each other work through the tough times. A relationship is supposed to provide balance, support, and care to whomever needs it at that time. I was afraid of putting that burden onto someone else. It took me time to realize, but being upfront about your CF and finding the right partner will make you happier in the long run.
When I first started dating, I hid everything about my CF. I had an excuse for everything. If I coughed a lot, I would say, “I have a bit of a cold,” or, “The weather is affecting my allergies.” Before going on a date, I would take my enzymes so they wouldn't ever be in sight.
The more I could hide my sickness, the more they might like me, was my thought at the time.
As life kept going, so did the progression of my CF. I was getting hospitalized more often, taking more medicines, and getting put on oxygen periodically. At this point in my life, I could no longer hide that I was sick. So, I made up my mind that I was going to tell the person I had been going on dates with about my disease. When I eventually told him, he felt that by hiding my CF I was lying about who I was. When he tried to learn about CF and all my treatments, he came to the conclusion that my disease was too much for him to handle. After we broke it off, I promised myself to always tell the person I am pursuing about my CF.
When I did find a partner who could handle my CF, I ended up settling for an unhealthy relationship. I would think, “But he is okay with my CF, so I should stay with him because I won't find anyone else.”
It's easy to settle for someone because we feel crunched for time. We are told all the time we are dying young. Because of this, I feel that I overlooked all the warning signs of a toxic partner. We rushed everything about our relationship. I had a partner, but I felt more alone than I have ever felt in my life.
I tried to change who I was because I thought he was doing me a favor by dating me. When we rushed our relationship, I did not know exactly who I was getting into a relationship with, let alone living with. It turned out to be a very traumatic relationship; but it all could have been prevented if we took our time to get to know each other and try to find out if we were really compatible. You only come to know someone well with time.
Be patient and cautious with who you trust and give your heart to. Especially, as you get sicker. Being patient paid off for me when I met my astounding boyfriend. We talked on and off for over a year. Yes, that's a long time to just talk and get to know one another. Since we did talk for so long, transitioning to a more serious relationship was much easier. He knew ALL about my CF, how to help me, and what I really needed in a partner (and if he could be that person for me). He had become my No. 1 fan/supporter.
He reminds me daily that I am so much more than my disease and that I am capable of so much more than I think I am. He pushes me to new boundaries and helps set even bigger expectations for the future. Instead of looking at what I can't do, he has learned to accommodate what I can do. He has taken me on many camping, rafting, and kayaking trips, all while needing supplemental oxygen and breathing treatments every four hours.
Being sick (or getting sicker) doesn't mean you are any less of a person to love. You just have to find that person who is patient enough to stick by you through the good times and bad.
A CFer needs a strong, independent, and stable partner. But also, they need to be tender and caring because when we are sick, we may need them to make decisions for us in the future. You don't want to put your life in just anyone's hands, no matter how much you care about someone. There are good people and partners out there for everyone, you just have to be patient.
Remember to take your time, love life, and just breathe one breath at a time!
Join the conversation on Facebook.