So, I told the guy I’ve been dating about my MS. I’ll skip the details of exactly how it came up, but we were driving back from a wedding in Portland last Sunday and the opportunity just presented itself.
When my window appeared, I chewed the inside of my cheek for a bit, struggling over whether I should take advantage of this clear and fleeting opening. As I have no poker face, he noticed my obvious consternation and asked what was on my mind. So I came clean.
He took it surprisingly well–saying all these mature, unselfish, caring things. Reassuring me that he wouldn’t find me any less attractive, explaining that he understands this disease isn’t me and I’m not “damaged goods,” it’s just something that happened to me, and asking me to not keep anything like this from him again. But he still understood why I hadn’t told him before, although he said he’d had his suspicions, but didn’t want to pry. So it wasn’t too much of a shock for him.
I’m a bit in shock, though. I still can’t believe I told him, after all this build-up and stress over when would be the right time. Sure, it’s like a weight’s been lifted, but now that I don’t have to hide my MS anymore, I feel almost like something’s missing. Like there’s something I’m forgetting to do. I’m still not comfortable letting him in on the minutia of my daily symptoms and I’m not planning on letting him watch me inject my Avonex anytime soon–so my shot schedule is still a bit in flux–but at least I don’t have to sneak around anymore, or pretend like everything’s fine when it’s not.
For a few days after I told him, I felt like my disclosure would enable our relationship could get deeper as I was now able to share everything with him. I felt so secure and was surprised that I didn’t feel the paranoia I’d expected to set in as soon as those words, “I have MS,” slipped through my lips.
A week later, the paranoia is creeping in. For whatever hair-brained reason, all the good and comforting things he said to me, and the amazing way he’s treated me in general, don’t still my whirring thoughts. I worry that this is going to become an elephant in the room–an elephant with an occasional limp–and something he’s watching out for, searching for signs of weakness. I worry that he’ll tire of being with someone who has so many potential physical variables in her life. A girlfriend with an asterisk:
*May contain debilitating and unpredictable chronic condition
Of course, I know these concerns are just products of my own mind. He even told me that he still expects us to do all the things that we’d planned on doing this summer–and that whether we’re biking or backpacking or brunching, I shouldn’t worry about holding him back. Because the experiences we have aren’t about him having a good time, he said, but about us having a good time together. (I know, right? This dude is good.)
It’s just that my girl-brain, terrified of screwing up this relationship with my insecurities and chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome, is mixing it up with my fear of MS. But, since I’m smart enough (heh) to recognize that, I’m trying to talk myself out of this state of mind. I suppose I need to get used to the idea that this is something that I’m sort of expected to share with someone else now, after pretty much taking care of it on my own for more than two years. We’ll see what happens, I guess. Hopefully good things.
Oh, and Happy Fourth of July. I hope you’re all safe and sound, lighting off firecrackers or at a BBQ somewhere. xo