Not get married. Or have kids.
I told my Dad when I was about 10 years old that I would get married in jeans and a t-shirt. I assumed then, as I did until I was 27, that getting married would be something I would do. I very nearly went through with the jeans and t-shirt look but, like the married-relationship, that didn’t work out. Still, I didn’t do the Big White Wedding and I even wore my dress to a ball a few years later.
I met Tom online dating. I’d be on this site on and off, for two years. When I started it was my first time trying it and although I wasn’t chronically ill at that point, I still found it incredibly stressful. You get these ideas of what this person will be like in real life. You hope so much that what you’ve read means you’ll hit it off. I went for a lot of walks round parks with these fellas. I figured that even if we didn’t get on, I got some exercise and time outside out of it (always the pragmatist!).
By the time my chronic migraine was in full swing I was finding it very difficult to think about dating. The energy I needed back when I was well was difficult and now I wasn’t sure I could face it. Going on the date was the first hurdle, and then there was the emotional one of wondering why they would want an actual relationship with me, with my health as it was. What could I bring to the relationship other than difficulties and needs? I kept meeting people (women, mostly) who had energy limiting conditions with partners from before poor health had tsunami’d into their life. I admit I was jealous but at the same time glad I hadn’t stayed in my previous relationship to weather this storm.
Tom lived on a narrow boat and described himself as ‘retired’. He had pictures of logs he’d chopped on his online profile, him standing proudly over them. I thought at least I’ll learn something about a different way of life by meeting this guy and sounds like we’ll have things to talk about. Within two weeks we were officially in a relationship and within two months, living together. It didn’t feel rushed, and it didn’t feel forced. It just felt like where we were both meant to be. I’d never experienced that belief before but after being with the wrong person for so long, I was going to enjoy every minute if it. Tom never saw my illness as a negative thing; he thinks he wouldn’t have been able to keep up with me when I was well! Plus because I come across as a bit of a ‘toughie’, it gave me a chance show some vulnerability; to need help. In turn, this has let him be more open about his vulnerabilities and we can share our struggles as equals.
When I first stayed with him on the boat, I remember looking out of the window and being amazed at the site of reeds, rushes and water – and nothing else. I had only ever lived in large towns or cities but any time I’d stayed in the countryside I felt more peaceful. I figured it was something I would do when retired, not in my 30s. So when my health got too bad to work even half time, having the opportunity to not only take this step financially, but with both the loving and practical support of Tom, I have had the chance to live this life now.
Like marriage, I always thought I would have children. It just seemed like a natural part of life. But, like pretty much every part of life that seems ‘natural’, I’ve come to question this part. I now have a long list of reasons for choosing not to have them. I think the top two would be my health – having biological children could really mess up my migraine health and even adoption would be a massive strain – and knowing that at 33, if I still don’t have a burning desire for them, I probably never will. Sure, never say never, but it not featuring in my life plan is actually a relief, rather than a sadness – as outsiders may assume.
So to the outside world there might not be anything too official joining me and Tom together; we don’t have a marriage certificate, children together, joint home ownership or even a joint bank account! I think you’ll have got the picture that the outside world can take a running jump, as far as we’re concerned. We’ve now spent the whole year together and compared to the average couple both working 9-5, I reckon we’ve spent double the time with each other. Most people wait until retirement for this so I always feel very lucky to have this time while we’re young – even if not so healthy. The future is never mapped out, but whatever tsunami is yet to hit, we’ve got some good foundations built which might just get rattled, not broken.
I don’t want love to fill in the gaps
Giving over control of my life maps
Where will I fit, within this space?
You ask too much with your embrace
I don’t ask for help, I’m far too strong
There’s only me, and I’m not wrong
Give me your hand and I’ll turn away
This is my walk, don’t get in my way
This my past life, I thought was free
Just not yet right, I now can see
I don’t like to scream or jump about
But here quietly, ‘i love you’, I shout
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I’d love to hear if you’ve had any similar reflections/experiences. Subscribe yourself to get emails when i write more blogs (roughly every two weeks.