Singles, Take Heart (Living With Fibro Can Be Lonely)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Article written By Linda Farwell

    Tears filled my eyes as I sat in my car in the parking lot. As much as I looked forward to my fibromyalgia support group, this was one meeting I could not attend. The topic was relationships, and of the 16 women in the group, I was the only one without a spouse or partner.

    Living with fibromyalgia can be lonely, made even lonelier without someone special in your life. Friends and family are a tremendous source of support, and I appreciate them, but I’ll be frank. I can’t cuddle up to my pals in the middle of the night.

    Besides, I’m a romantic.

    How is it possible for someone with fibromyalgia to date? What potential lover wants to be with someone who sometimes flinches from being touched? Who wants to make a date with someone who may have to cancel at the last minute? What fun is it to spend time with someone who might fold after dinner or wake at three a.m. unable to sleep?

    As my symptoms grew worse, I was forced to limit my activities. I became somewhat isolated and depended only on my trusted network of friends and family for company. The thought of meeting new people and dating exhausted me before I even tried. Many a night I cried myself to sleep wondering if romance was now a thing of the past.

    But when I was able to dig my way out from the heap of self-pity, I became involved in helping others with chronic disease. Through my support group, I learned about the National Fibromyalgia Association. When I was asked to attend their conference in 2006, I was nervous that I wouldn’t have enough stamina for it. Far safer to stay home and burrow in. Choosing “no” had become a habit. But at the last minute I signed up because I was tired of missing out on life.

    When I arrived at the conference, I felt alone and awkward. It seemed like everyone I met was attached to a mate. I soon discovered, however, that several people were on their own. Solo or not, it didn’t matter. We all had stories to share. The most therapeutic aspect was how much we joked and laughed about our experiences.

    I was so excited after the first day of inspiring lectures, health exhibits and festivities that I didn’t want to go back to my hotel room. I wanted to be around people. I entered the hotel lounge and ordered a drink. Sitting nearby was one of the salesmen from the exhibit. Much to my amazement, he engaged me in a lively conversation that lasted until midnight!

    How did that happen? I am pretty sure I have the answer. Because I took the risk of putting myself out to meet new people and made a real effort at contributing, I absorbed positive energy from those around me. By the time I met Al, I was projecting a warmth and openness I hadn’t felt in years. It was no wonder he felt at ease in approaching me.

    Being in the health care industry, he understood much of what I was experiencing. He was kind, supportive and had a great sense of humor—a real tonic. We enjoyed some wonderful times together over the next six months. I can honestly say that when it ended, it had nothing to do with my illness. Our relationship gave me hope that finding love is still possible—even with fibromyalgia.

    Since then, I have resolved that whenever I have a surge of energy, I will get off that couch and push myself forward into the world. As my mother always said, “Accept the invitation. You never know who you might meet.”

    Dating can be daunting under normal circumstances. With fibromyalgia, it takes physical as well as emotional energy we often don’t have. And because we don’t look sick, I think it’s important to be upfront with a date early so they know what to expect. Most people are puzzled, then curious, but rarely does anyone respond negatively. And if they do, who cares? We don’t want that kind of person in our lives anyway.

    When my confidence wanes, I sometimes feel I shouldn’t get involved with someone because I’m at a disadvantage. But I’ve learned to turn that thinking around. If I am strongly attracted to someone who has diabetes or chronic fatigue, would I be foolish enough to reject that person because they have an illness? Would I let that stand in the way of a potential loving relationship?

    There’s a scene in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” in which Greg Kinnear asks his former girlfriend Meg Ryan if she has anyone in her life. She responds, “I have the hope of someone.”

    I keep that in mind. Hope is key. I also know that relationships don’t happen while sitting alone in my car crying because I am a single person with fibromyalgia. Love can and does happen. And like all things worthwhile in life, it takes courage and effort.

    By Linda Farwell

    [This Message was Edited on 02/21/2007]

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