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MS and Facing Fears in Relationship

October 4, 2013

I waited as long as I possible before getting into a new relationship once I started living with MS.


That was partly because when I was diagnosed, I freaked out about my life and wasn’t able to find the words attached to my emotional pain. So as a result, my relationship at that time ended suddenly. I wanted it to go away because I was exhausted and didn’t want a daily reminder of the gaping hole of what I thought my life could have been if I was MS free.


For this reason, I could not be in a partnership at that time because my life felt out of control, I felt out of control. I was not functioning well emotionally, physically or spiritually. I was like a tornado that came tunnelling through town but never left, destroying what was around me and destroying me in the process. The guilt and shame of this scarred me so deeply for several years as I’m sure they did the woman I was with at that time.


Now I have opened my heart again. It took two and a half years. It was a big surprise to meet this lovely, interesting and understated woman while snowshoeing up a mountain during an evening on a full moon. I went to this event with a friend with the intention of reconnecting with and building community. The magic and power of the full moon that particular evening guided me towards a meaningful conversation and connection unexpectedly.


Seven full moons later, we have continued to get to know one another, find closeness, develop a deeper connection and growing love. I am again face with a tornado that for the most part have done my best to keep at bay. It’s a different one because my life is more manageable and the relationship feels mutual, yet what I didn’t work through the last time is still omnipresent – the reminder of what my life is now. Everyday I am assessing and weighing out what I do based on my level of energy. I suppose all people who are really in tune with themselves do this, especially those who have an ability to love and nurture themselves. Yet, I haven’t arrived to that healing place at this point –  can’t access a place of full acceptance of my situation. I toggle between acceptance and disappointment, discouragement and frustration. The little one inside of me sometimes tantrums and feels it’s just not fair while that adult self makes calculated decisions around energy management and seriously moves into automatic pilot, especially when the only variable is me.


I’ve had three years to find my way and it seems to work okay for the most part. I think the well of grief in me is still reconfiguring my personal GPS around navigating through the pain and being okay with what is. I see the resistance to acceptance simply brings greater pain. I have witnessed this not only in myself but in others who struggle with daily fatigue.


I am reminded I am no longer the person who is capable of filling up my schedule so full. In the past, I had no idea how to find enough alone time. I was almost bursting for it. Now, I crave it. Partly because I am aware of how restoring it is and I know it’s best to spend time in solitude when I am at risk a slight tornado eruption. The truth is, I worry that the disturbance would be too great and case too much the damage to recover from. Of course, this is a fear based on past experience. Part of me wants to walk away from this fear and allow myself to show vulnerabilities fully yet I am very attached to the safety of containment.


There is an emerging part of me who has gotten used to living with deep pain. As a result, I am more willing to walk into my fear and embrace it. Not necessarily in the moment when I am containing the eruption but after the darkness starts to shift slightly, when intensity of its energy is less, then I can stand up and be accountable and show my messiness.


I was hoping I would have been past all of this by now, by the time I opened my heart again. I was expecting that of myself. Now I can see, life is not so cut and dry. It hues are present and I remind me of what my limitations are all the time. It’s possible I will experience this for the rest of my life. It’s this realization I want and need to come to terms with and find acceptance in. Reality is reality. Right now I wake up making conscious decisions of how my day will look based on my capacity. Then I make decisions throughout my day. The planner in me maps it all out the best I can to make sure the breakdowns or the fall apart happens as rarely as possible.


Then there are the rays of sun jetting down to provide clarity and hope. Most importantly, it’s a powerful learning that has unfolded from this new love.

It’s the discovery of how important it is to check in and see where both of us are at. This is vital because through sharing found clarity in seeing we both have energy dips, emotional dips, disappointments, discouragement, frustration and resistance to coming face to face with all of these in a way that requires self care.  I certainly don’t want our connection to be all about my struggles with fatigue. What I didn’t consider before  was the idea of knowing and hearing about how drained and exhausted other can get frees me up from so alone, so solitary, so isolated in the world.


I am so used to the habit of rallying to do more than I can because I wish I could rather than allowing myself the right to stop.  I imagine that is because I am so afraid of missing out or being left behind, instead of living from a place of what I have done is more than enough for this moment, hour, or day.


The truth is, this process and the learning I am experiencing regarding living with fatigue goes well beyond MS. It’s deeper. MS is the catalyst for facing the deepest of all my fears head on. I am grateful and lucky to have found myself in a relationship where I get to continue doing this life work while being in relationship a wonderful loving woman who is willing and open to being on this adventure with me.


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