I constantly stumble over people who haven’t been as lucky as I am, to still be married after many years of illness. The first thing they always do is to blame their health, for them being alone, but the more I think about it, the more I doubt the truth of that statement. Without a doubt, every single one of us will lose friends along the way. When we lose friends, few sit in tears and grieve over their loss, we just move on, telling ourselves, they weren’t real friends in the first place. Personally, I think that may too, be the truth of partners who run a mile, just because we become ill. It isn’t a deficiency in the love we have for them, but their love for us. It doesn’t matter how hard I look, the only reason that I can give for Adam and I surviving what has happened to me, is love. There isn’t anything special about us, other than we totally love each other, and the very thought, of being apart, is worse than anything my health can do to us.
If I am honest, I don’t think there was a single person, other than Adam and I, who thought that we would last. There were a million reasons why we shouldn’t, starting with the age difference, the fact we came from very different worlds, and what we had in common could be written on a cigarette paper. Then there was the fact I couldn’t have any more children, following a hysterectomy when I was 25, and my first child was born just a year after he was. We had only known each other a few days when he more or less moved in with me. We were engaged a few weeks later and left the shared flat I had lived in for years and into a place of our own. Which was quickly followed by us getting married. Just after our first anniversary, we bought our flat and just after our second, all my aches and pains, my growing tiredness and a list of other things, were explained as Fibromyalgia, six months later, that diagnosis was joined by another of PRMS. Not the best things to appear at what was just the start, of our lives together. Two years later, to both of our surprise, I lost my libido. At first, it was just the combination of being in pain and being constantly tired, that meant our sex life diminished, but then the whole concept became an alien thought. 11 years on, and it still hasn’t reappeared. Then 9 years ago, I became housebound. There was nothing left that could happen to us, that could or would in many people’s eyes destroy any marriages, but here we are, still in love and still very happy together. If anyone can say that chronic illness doesn’t have to be the end of a happy marriage, we can, as apart from death, there is nothing left that it can take away from us. If you truly love each other, you truly can survive anything.
Having said all that, it doesn’t mean that there haven’t been several times, that I thought it was possible that we wouldn’t survive because of my health. In fact, I still remember clearly just after my diagnosis or PRMS was know, and I had absorbed just what it meant, that I told Adam to go. I clearly didn’t want him to go anywhere, but I felt so guilty about the fact I had been ill for years without a diagnosis before I even met him. I had been trying since I was in my 20 to find out what was wrong with me, but the doctor kept sending me away, they repeatedly told me there was nothing wrong with me. I had had no choice but to accept it, so I never even mentioned it to Adam. I had lived with it for 17 years, what was there to say? It wasn’t until we had just moved in here and I found myself once again struggling, that I first mentioned it, so yes, I felt guilty. I didn’t want him to feel that he was tricked or trapped, if he wanted out, I wasn’t going to hold him back from going, as I could totally understand of that was what he wanted to do. When I said it, I was terrified. The whole thought of losing him, on top of everything else, was almost unbearable, but he stayed.
When sex went out the window, of course, I feared that that was the end. I even tried to fake it, but when the feelings not there, there’s nothing and Adam knew without me telling him, that something was totally wrong. We had always been one of those couples who just couldn’t bear to not be physically touching each other. We went nowhere without holding hands, sat as close to each others as we could get, and were always, stealing a kiss whenever the opportunity arose. Suddenly, I was pulling away, trying not to make contact, just in case he got any ideas. Every time I did, the same fear appeared. How long would he stay with me, without sex? Sex had actually been one of those difficult things for several months. I knew already that he feared causing me more pain than I was already in, to be honest, so did I, but when my libido switched off totally, my final fears appeared. We talked, we talked a lot, and although for me there is still some guilt, it has become, just the way we are. Of course, there is still physical affection between us. We cuddle and we kiss, but that’s it, it never goes any further. For me, I have to say totally honestly, sex never enters my mind. It’s unavoidable on TV, but it doesn’t matter what I see, what the atmosphere is or anything else, I feel nothing. These days, if it suddenly reappeared from nowhere, I know without even trying, that I don’t even on my best days have either the energy required or a body that wouldn’t cause me more pain than I would be able to endure. Libido or not, I believe that it would now be a closed subject. We still love each other deeply, and neither of us, are going anywhere unless the other is with us.
Marriage, all marriages start and end with friendship. If you partner isn’t your best friend and you don’t love them regardless of their faults, chronic illness may just be the straw that doesn’t just break you, it shatters you, but it isn’t the reason any marriage will end, that’s going to be due to something else, that just wasn’t right in the first place. So if you have been recently diagnosed, don’t fear what your health might do your relationships because if you both love each other enough, you will survive this as you would, anything else. If love is deep enough, it survives anything, just as long and even after you do.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 05/02/2014 – Holding back the future
We all like to think we are individual, but the thing that makes us happiest is to find someone just like ourselves, just one of the many things in life that I just can’t really get my head round. We all seem to have……