Friday, June 22, 2012

Single and Sick at 31

Lots of people get sick. Actually, most people get sick eventually, as the great majority of deaths are caused by some form of illness (the leading one being heart disease – not that I’m competitive). Some become ill way too early, without ever really having lived. Many become ill after seventy or eighty good years. Plenty of people get sick in their thirties and forties and fifties, many that are married and/or have children.

I’m willing to bet there are not many people that become ill as young, single adults – emphasis on single. While I have been glad not to burden a loved one with my needs and challenges on a constant basis, I do find unique difficulties in facing serious illness without a spouse or significant other. Even if living alone were never a problem (and thanks to friends and my moms’ visits, it hasn’t been much of one for me), facing the future as a single woman at 31 can be overwhelming.

Being single at 31 is daunting in its own rite to most healthy women. Some people get lonely. Those of us that want children are cringing as our biological clocks tick. We imagine the worst a single life has to offer. We are truly delighted to celebrate with our friends getting married and having babies, yet we grow more insecure with each announcement.

When you combine that with chronic illness and no real certainty for the future, the picture becomes more difficult to paint in a positive light. I try to embrace hope and positivity when considering the future for my body and my health, but it’s difficult to imagine meeting a guy that wants to jump on board. I’m not exactly “out there” meeting people due to my ongoing fatigue, and most men don’t seek out women with truckloads of baggage.

I’ve never been one to rue the single life or force fit relationships to avoid being alone, but I have always expected to one day meet the love of my life, get married, have children and live to become a grandmother. Maybe I watch too many movies, I don’t know. I guess I was more comfortable being single before I got sick, since I could plausibly imagine embarking on my Hollywood ending at any moment. I struggle more now, with the fear that I may never again be well. I might never recover the energy that has eluded me for eighteen months.

I just finished watching the movie “Love and Other Drugs” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. It actually helped me imagine a rewrite to my Hollywood ending in a way that befits a girl with ongoing health challenges and an uncertain prognosis. Rest assured this is a very loose parallel since the movie is far more scandalous than my relatively boring life, but I was brightened a bit by the potential of a long-term relationship for a girl facing long-term illness.