When Chronic Illness Kills A Relationship

The end
15 years…gone.


One of the most painful things I can think of is the end of a relationship that was once full of love and happiness. It feels even worse that the cause of death here was my chronic illness.

Or rather, his inability to deal with my illness once things got tougher.

What is it like to become single while sick and disabled after 15 years, most of which were happy and healthy and in a happy and healthy relationship?

It’s like the bottom has fallen out of your world.

It’s like everything you knew, trusted, and believed in was yanked from under you and you don’t understand why suddenly you’re not enough any more.

It’s like seeing it coming but trying to fix it when there’s nothing you can do.

You can’t get well and stop the stress you’re both under financially and emotionally. You can’t break through your partner’s belief that any health issue can be conquered or fixed if you keep going like always. You can’t convince them your invisible, incurable chronic illness imposes real physical limits or that you’re at or past them when you look like nothing is wrong with you. You can’t explain why your grief over everything changing won’t heal when they won’t accept that you won’t get better.

It feels like being alone before you ever realize that you really are, because you can’t put your finger on the real issue…which is that as much as you may love each other, your partner can’t handle your illness and being your sole support, because they feel they can’t communicate their stress to you.

It feels like being punished for something you can’t control, and communication between you breaking down until it’s too late.

It feels like resentment, both directed at you and that you have for being resented.

It feels like trying to tell your partner that you understand…but you don’t. You may understand why your illness caused stress, but you will never understand why they could allow it to make them give up on you – on you together.

It feels like trying to tell your adult children without making them feel like they have to choose a “side.”

It conversely and perhaps irrationally feels like hurt because some of your children don’t take your side automatically, even though you’re trying to avoid making them feel like they should and you know it’s wrong.

It feels like not wanting to burden your family and friends, but not being able to do it alone either physically or financially.

It feels like being lost in a world you don’t know the rules to, if any exist.

It feels like fear and uncertainty are your new best friends who won’t leave you even for a moment.

It feels like longing for things back, even if they weren’t good for you.

It feels like heartbreak.

It feels like the end.

It feels like crying every night and having more flares because your stress affects your physical symptomatic levels.

It feels like being unable to explain that without others assuming it’s stress making you ill rather than exacerbating your existing illness.

It feels like feeling unlovable because of your illness.

It feels like every guilty thought you’ve had about how your illness is hurting your family is true in the worst possible way.

It feels like being lost.

It feels like strong moments when you think you did the right and necessary thing for you.

It feels like the rest of your moments being spent wondering if you did the right thing for you.

It feels like wishing they’d want you back.

It feels like wanting them to want you back so YOU can be the one to walk away from them.

It feels like wishing you’d never met if this is how it ends.

It feels like you’re a yo-yo ride of emotions.

It feels like having to lose the pets you raised and adore because you can’t take them to your new place…because you don’t have one.

It feels like as much a betrayal and trust-breaker as infidelity.

It feels like telling yourself not to even get interested in anyone because you can’t stand the reaction of mere aquaintances when you drop the Chronic Illness Bomb, much less that of someone you really like.

It feels like losing hope of a remotely normal life.

It feels like finding a new version of you as you discover who you are without them.

It feels more like,moving away than moving on or forward.

If it gets better you can’t see it yet, and in that, it feels like any breakup.

If it gets better, I’ll let you know.

– Selena



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