Being a woman of a certain age, means that there are flutterings of the heart that occur. I would notice men of interest all the time. The thing was I very seldom had the confidence to pursue them. I had a preconceived notion of the "preconceived notion" that they would have of me. I was never itty-bitty, ski racers rarely are. I didn't fit into the quote unquote, "normal" package. And now I had this extra baggage... The MS and cane baggage to contend with.
Don't get me wrong, I dated... I dated long-distance boyfriends that I built up in my mind to be who I needed them to be. And quite un-proudly I socialized with other peoples boyfriend's who were unhappy and unfulfilled with the pretty little airheads they had in line. I justified all of this easily enough though; "I was protecting everyone else from my stuff and at the same time myself from the more than OBVIOUS rejection that would ensue." I thought at the time I was doing the world a favor and so what if it meant that I had to cry myself to sleep every night while the guy I was a pinning and connecting with had a pretty little prize to cuddle up beside?
The truth is the further I got into this disease process the harder it was to maintain ANY relationships. Friends enjoyed the "good time", "persevering" Shara... But no one knew what to say on the other end of the line as I cried and spoke about the humiliation of wetting myself and falling down like a drunk in public, or the fact that my body hurt so bad some days that I wanted to die. Those were things people clearly didn't want to hear and I didn't want to upset them by harping on it after I pin-pointed their discomfort. They didn't know how to cope or what to say to make it "okay".
The fact of the matter is this, for all of you "normal's" reading this blog; progressively sick people aren't looking to be saved, or pitied, or worshipped for being "so strong". The truth is that people; healthy, happy, sick or mad people, just want to be heard. I pulled back a lot in life because I didn't want to upset anyone. I considered how they would feel, rather than telling them how I was feeling or what I was thinking.
When I first got my cane the thing I remember most, was the interest that total strangers took in it. The hostess at the restaurant that would ask me as she seated us "why I had the cane". Being the ever so considerate invalid that I was I created quick remarks to guard them from feeling foolish for asking the invasive question before us; "you've heard of beating them off with a stick?... (Comedic pause) ... Well this is my stick." HAHAHAHAHA.
In regards to dating I thought I had figured out the perfect scenario when I actually picked up a guy after giving an MS based speech one day at a fundraiser for the Jimmy Heuga Foundation's Snow Express For MS. We dated for a few months and I thought it was perfect because EVERYTHING was already on the table. This guy knew I had MS. More than that he was at least a little educated about what that meant. However like most people I think the "idea" of dating someone with a progressive disease, didn't quite match the "reality" of dating that same individual. He was out the door before the third day of "OUR" first attack.
Am I sad I don't have a significant other in my life? Yes. Am I extremely tired of carrying the load on my own everyday? Yes. Do I NEED a man to make my disease "better"? NO. Will I EVER make the mistake of putting someone else's comfort about my disease before my own again? No. Did it take thousands of dollars in counselling to get me there? Yes... Do I now have beautiful, supportive friends that I can turn to? YES!
But at the end of it all, can I now look at the hostess and hand off the responsibility of the awkwardness of the situation and say; "I have MS." And look down at the menu as she pauses before walking away? ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, YES! And... I might even go back to that same restaurant again. :)