If you were, we have something in common. I got dumped because I got diagnosed with a chronic illness. This is my story.
Intimate relationships can be tricky enough. Chronic illness and intimate relationships, on the other hand, can sometimes seem close to impossible. And if you, like me, have ever been dumped by someone you love, because you have a chronic illness, it can be downright heartbreaking.
So, what do you do?
How can you break through the stigma of chronic illness, release any fear you have of being rejected for having a chronic illness and learning how to love someone again?
There was a time when I could not have told you what I am about to tell you, as at the time I was completely broken. Emotionally.
Some time ago I was in a relationship with a man who after a while ended the relationship. Being dumped is heartbreaking enough, but when he told me one of the reasons why, it hit me very hard.
Breaking up with someone with chronic illness can be devastating for the person who is chronically ill.
In fact, breaking up with someone with a chronic illness or disability is so hard that my self-confidence hit rock-bottom completely.
From the onset, I had been entirely open and transparent about having a chronic illness. And that because of chronic illness it had been impossible for me to work for many years and I was receiving a special allowance from the local council.
I had asked him if my current living and health situation were a problem for him and that if it was, it was simply good to know straight away and there would be no harm done.
But, amazingly he totally embraced me and the illness wholeheartedly. And often praised me for doing so well despite the illness.
“I thought I had hit the jackpot. The man I had been waiting to happily live the rest of my life with was him.”
I thought I had hit the jackpot. The man I had been waiting for to happily live the rest of my life with.
But very quickly the cracks began to show. After only a few weeks he talked about us living together, and instead of playfully enjoying this possible future, he would fret and worry about how it would all work out financially.
So worried, in fact, it would often cause him sleepless nights and stress.
Then the day came when he broke up with me via email and mentioned he could not, and did not want to, be with me, or have much to do with me anymore, because it bothered him that I did not have ‘enough’ money.
Was I dumped because of chronic illness?
Reading that email hit me for six.
I could not believe what I was reading. And I took it very, very personally, despite knowing that during our relationship he often had panic attacks, particularly when it came down to money. So severely, that he could not go to work sometimes for a few weeks in a row.
I knew he felt very frightened and panicked around money a lot. And psychologically I also understood that these were his fears and his own beliefs. Fears that had been there for a very long time. Long before we even met.
But instead of looking at and dealing with his own fears, he succumbed to them believing these to be true, and projecting them onto me.
Because to his own mind, his ego, that way he would stay safe. He wouldn’t have to confront his own fears.
Now, is this story about blaming this man I had a relationship with for ‘abandoning me’ because of the so-called lack of funds and how he should have known better? Is this what healed my broken heart and the advice I want to give you?
Blame never heals any heart. And after some time I discovered something that would start to heal mine.
You see, it takes two to tango in a relationship and as for him, so for me arose to the surface deep held fears that belonged to me. And to me only.
Once the pain (anger (read lots of anger!), hurt, fear, and frustration mostly subsided, there was room for me to examine what this pain was really about and wanted to tell me.
Was I dumped because of chronic illness? No
Was it that I wasn’t financially wealthy? No
Was it about my innermost fear that I didn’t believe I was worthy of love? That no matter what I did that would never change? That I simply was not enough? Bingo!.
These fears did not belong to him. These fears belonged to me.
For many months I was too afraid to meet someone new again and expose my life situation out of fear of being scorned and rejected again. I feared that I would never know how to love someone again.
When I realized that that fear, that rejection, was all inside of me, I was able to start to release my own projection of anger onto him and put this energy to good use: holding and healing my own inner pain.
"Breaking up because of health issues doesn't define our worth, but rather reveals the fears we must confront within ourselves."
It was never about the fact that this man dumped me because of chronic illness, and the effects of the illness, such as not being able to work, and not receiving an abundant income. This was about the fears and pain we both had not embraced yet, nor were yet ready to own up to.
This is what relationships are meticulously good at, particularly intimate relationships. In our most vulnerable state of being, our deepest fears arise in the hope these will be healed by us.
So, even though events or situations unfold for you and me that on the surface seem to be the direct cause of chronic illness, or the effects of chronic illness, these often are here to teach us and guide us to what we believe to be true about ourselves that are the actual cause of the pain we feel. Beliefs that are not in harmony with who we truly are.
If only we look just that little bit deeper within ourselves. When we do, we free ourselves from the bounds of our own hurt and create that little bit more inner peace, love, and compassion for ourselves. All this chronic illness teaches us. And when you think about it, that’s quite a miracle in itself.
Do you recall a situation, present or past, where you are or have been unknowingly rejecting yourself but believed it was because of chronic illness or someone else?
"Don't let being dumped because of chronic illness define you; let it ignite your strength to embrace self-love and resilience."
Nicole Nyqvist, the author of "Dumped because of chronic illness or disability?," helps women living with a chronic illness to see that chronic illness is not the enemy, but serves as a teacher to help them heal.