Anyone who knows me well just spit their coffee out when they saw the title of this post. My track record is less than stellar. Whether the lack of stellarliness is due to fibro or my own bullheadedness, I have no idea. But fibromyalgia has been in play throughout my rather pathetic love life, and since there are a lot of people out there wondering how to deal with relationships while dealing with fibro (not a question I can actually answer, btw), and since I spent the large part of this last weekend making room in my home for the man in my life to join me there, it’s something I should probably reflect on.
I’ve been married and divorced twice. Neither were “good” marriages. There wasn’t a joining of forces, so to speak. The first was a case of friends that just shouldn’t have gotten together. I’m still a little unsure of what either of our motives in getting married were. It produced a wonderful son who has grown to be a wonderful man, so I forgive myself for that one. The second marriage was a case of me first of all not being willing to listen to warning bells and secondly not believing I was worth better when I started hearing them. I put my son through that marriage, something I still haven’t forgiven myself for. He survived, however, and thrived, and I – after several years of therapy – have been able to put the abuse behind me.
My second-ex never hit me, although I think he came very close many times. He verbally and emotionally assaulted me and tore my self-esteem into a pretty limp puddle on the floor. It was during this marriage that the fibro really reared its ugly head. I have had problems with pain since I was 15, but this is when the pain drove me to the doctor. I was sure I had a rheumatic process, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, because I was so withered, I stayed in that relationship 10 years, and each year I sunk lower and the pain increased. It wasn’t until I saw X2 confronting my son both verbally and physically that I was able to wake up and pull myself and my son out of the situation.
The delay in extracting myself and being able to protect my son was due in a large part to fibro, which wasn’t officially diagnosed until a few years after I got out. I was doing a lot of things during that marriage – getting my Master’s degree, helping my parents with their business, teaching. My limited energy resources were expended completely every day, so I never felt like I did enough or was enough – I was always inadequate. I still struggle against those feelings, but X2 preyed on those feelings, encouraged those feelings, fed those feelings. In the meantime, pain levels were on the rise as was my weight. I gained 75 pounds in about five years.
After I extracted myself from X2, I locked myself up in my home and considered putting a sign up outside declaring my home the “Nunnery.” For 15 years, I closed myself off from men and friends. I didn’t go anywhere where I may accidentally meet anyone, and my demeanor stopped accidental meetings in their tracks. Until about 4 years ago. A friend – at work, because I had few outside of work – talked me into going on a dating website. You’re all groaning, but it worked. I had about 45 first dates in almost 4 years. There was no way I was going to fall into another bad situation, so I kept plugging away, a bit horrified, a bit encouraged, very discouraged most of the time. And then just as I was going to pull the plug on the whole thing, I came across my Terry.
I didn’t know what it was actually like being treated well. He has shown me. I’m hopeful for the first time probably in my whole life, and we are joining our lives together, slowly, carefully, and happily. Do I still have pain? Yup, even when I’m happy. Is it going to affect this relationship? I don’t think so. I hope not. This relationship is founded on firmer footing. It’s not about how much can I do for him. It’s about how much can we do for each other. It’s about mindfulness, remembering what I need to do for myself, and knowing it’s okay.