Growing up, I struggled with accepting my chronic illness. There was no one in my community who suffered from epilepsy which made it harder for me to deal with my disability. However, my parents did their best to make me feel normal. I went to the same school as my other siblings and even did the same sports they did. In fact, I was a champion football player. The older I got, the more I discovered my other hidden talents.
I was a talented artist which became a part-time hustle throughout college. It also helped me come out of my shell and meet incredible people. However, this exposed me to people who weren’t as understanding of my illness. I started dating a beautiful lady on campus after she bought one of my artworks. It didn’t take long for her to discover that I had epilepsy and she left me soon after that. It became a pattern. A lady would be interested in me then leave as soon as she found out I have a chronic illness. After several failed attempts at finding true love, I took a back seat from dating and decided to focus on my craft instead.
I stayed single for three months but I felt an emptiness. One day, a friend invited me to his cookout. I went since I hadn’t been out in a while. I also wanted to get a few buyers for my art. However, when I got there, I was instantly attracted to one lady. She was gorgeous, calm, and had a smile of an angel. I still had to be cautious since I had a bad experience with dating. Later in the evening, she approached me and introduced herself.
“I noticed you’ve been alone the whole day,” she said.
“Yes, I only know David.”
“Well, I’m Lucy, David’s cousin.”
“Oh, I actually see a similarity,” I said trying to start a conversation. She laughed and tapped me lightly on my arm.
We talked for hours as I went to get her a cocktail and an energy drink for myself in between the conversation. The conversation ignited a fire in me that I couldn’t control. After that encounter, I asked her out for a coffee date after work which she agreed to.
For some reason, I had a good feeling about dating Lucy. Maybe it was because she was my friend’s cousin or maybe it was her calm demeanor. Either way, I really took a liking to her. It seemed like she did as well. After several successful dates, I asked her to be my girlfriend.
Everything was going great. I also hadn’t had an epileptic attack since I started dating her. It felt like my life was finally getting back on track. Since I hadn’t had an attack, I didn’t think it was necessary to tell Lucy that I suffered from a chronic illness. I wanted to enjoy the honeymoon phase of our relationship before worrying her with such information.
We dated for about seven months without any incident. She had even moved in and things were pretty normal. However, my sister contacted me with some bad news.
“Mum is in hospital.” She said over the phone.
She had suffered a stroke and was rushed to hospital. When I got there, I saw her in a state that no child ever wants to see their mother. She was hooked on to a machine and there were tubes all over her body. I felt weak but tried to be strong. Lucy had accompanied me to visit my mum and I didn’t want her to see me as a weak man. She was supportive and comforted me which made me feel relaxed. However, when we went back home, I couldn’t stop thinking of my mother. That night, I didn’t get any sleep and I couldn’t eat the following morning.
The stress got to me and I had my first epilepsy attack in months. Lucy wasn’t there and I thought I would be able to control it. However, I had another attack later that night in her presence. She looked like she had seen a demon. At one point, she started praying while I struggled to calm her down as I recovered. She was inconsolable and didn’t seem to understand that it was a chronic illness and not something to be scared about.
“I have it under control. It’s just the stress of my mother.” I explained but she didn’t want to listen.
The following day, she packed her things and left me. We had been dating for almost a year and were even planning on visiting her parents for formal introductions. Now, I was alone again. This breakup, however, really opened my eyes. I had put all my focus into the relationship and forgot about myself. I even forgot about my family who had been there for me through all the challenges.
Lucy, on the other hand, left me at the first sight of difficulty. I hoped that she would have a change of heart but I never heard from her. Calls went unanswered and any attempts I made to contact her were fruitless. To make it worse, my mother’s condition wasn’t improving.
I decided to let go of the hurt and focus on myself. My failed relationships made me learn to love myself and embrace my illness. My failed relationships made me learn to love myself and embrace my illness. I thought of my chronic illness as a disability but now, I have learned to accept it and I even counsel young kids living with disabilities and chronic illnesses. It’s been a fulfilling journey and every day, I learn to love myself even deeper. I have now vowed to only date someone who understands my disability and to let the know about it on the first date. However, I’m in no rush to get back into dating. My life is going well as a single man. Additionally, I have a lot on my plate to focus on a relationship.
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