Singlehood Made Me Find Empathy Elsewhere
Some days I’m OK with being single, others not so much.
Yes, it is incredibly bothersome when I am mid-flare-up and have no one to go buy me some ice cream. Yet, for most days, I just get on with my daily existence.
Or in my case, try-to-get-as-much-done, before the next flare-up hits.
Having endo and being single
The truth is that life with endometriosis when you’re single is very different from life with endometriosis with a partner. On my good days, I feel fortunate that I don’t get to feel bad when I can’t be social, or as sexually active as a partner would like me to be.
I also don’t get to disappoint my favorite person, by spending several days out of action.
But, on my worst days, I miss having someone by my side.
I miss having someone holding my hand at the doctors. I wish I had someone applying ice to my legs when the pain makes me almost pass out.
Having another human being telling me “This won’t last forever” when I feel like it’s the end of the world, would definitely help.
Having a chronic pain companion
Having said that, just because I don’t have a life partner or a boyfriend, does not mean I am alone. Instead of a human next to me during my worst moments, I have a small dog.
He is the color of caramel, the size of a handbag, with ears too big for his small head, and a nubbin for a tail. We both struggle with anxiety, we don’t like to interact much early in the morning, and we don’t enjoy being hugged.
He also understands when I’m in pain. He will quietly lie parallel to me in bed, and refrain to ask for attention or anything he may need. If I cry, he comes running and snuggles his face close to mine.
He is physically challenged like me, so he has become the running buddy I never thought I’d deserve and I run at turtle-speed. But most importantly, my dog forces me to get out of my shell.
He takes me out on walks and because he is so cute, almost daily, someone will stop us. This will initiate a random conversation.
Most chats are around our dogs, but sometimes it gets very personal. Some strangers tell me about their struggles during the pandemic or the husband they recently lost.
I may mention my disease, and they will ask me a couple of questions. Suddenly we are strangers no more, and we will exchange encouraging smiles next time we see each other.
Endometriosis is still considered an invisible disease
Endometriosis is a disease that is still considered rare, and quite invisible. I am still surprised by the number of people who have never heard of this disease when it affects around 176 million people worldwide.
When I tell a stranger I live with chronic pain, they will tell me I look perfectly healthy. Yet disclosing I have endometriosis feels quite liberating when I tell someone who expects nothing from me.
When I am walking with my dog I could be anyone I like. I could choose to not mention my illness, but when I do, I am greeted with a lot of empathy.
Most importantly, I receive zero patronizing. To them, I am the human to my dog, Jarvis, and if they see us walking, they know we're OK.
Yes, there are days where I wish I had a loving human by my side who’d know about my disease without asking. But right now, I have a furry little devil encouraging me to chat about my disease with complete strangers.
And guess what, every time I do, I feel less alone.
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