Thursday, March 02, 2017

Love and Illness: Breaking up is Hard(er) to Do

October 2016

Wow. This is one of those posts that's incredibly difficult to write, necessary to write, and takes my breath away as I try nervously to put what I feel into words.

Many of you, but not all of you, know that Kiernan and I ended our relationship a little over six weeks ago. 

Black Moshannon State Park

Because this blog is read by many, including those who know Kiernan, it's important to me that I do not say anything to hurt him more than he is already hurting. Less than a month after we broke up, Kiernan's dad also died. 

This is enough pain for him to be in at this time.

It's also possible that people I date in the future could see this post, and there seems to be nothing positive in airing what happened between Kiernan and I so publicly.

Yet, I have shared much of Kiernan's and my journey here on my blog. I've shared how we fell in love, how we coped with my illness on a vacation together, how we journeyed through the past two years. So, I think it's important as part of my mission to blog authentically to share that falling out of love happened, too. 

Kiernan and I are just like every other couple out there--facing tough challenges unrelated to illness. The illness simply adds an extra dimension.

While the news of our relationship ending came as a surprise to some, in reality, we gradually unraveled. What unfolded during our more than two years together will stay between myself and Kiernan, a few close friends and my journal. 

In the end, while we loved each other, I felt that we didn't have enough love to stand on to create and sustain a long term, lifelong relationship.

I felt that we didn't have the same vision of a future together.

I felt that we had different ideas of 'time'.

It saddens me tremendously that things did not end amicably. 

I leave my heart open right now, hoping that some day we can be friends who care for one another. 

Goofy Guy

As my initial anger fades, I find myself struggling to reconcile what it means to love someone, but not have the love needed to sustain a relationship.

He's a goofy, smart, funny, kind, gentle man who opened my eyes to so many new things, while journeying with me through my illness.

I miss him. But I also believe that we are not meant to be together.

Kiernan was the first man I dated after 17 years of illness. Previously, my long-term relationship with my on and off boyfriend from high school and college ended shortly after I got sick. Again, he was a good man, but we were not a 'match' and my illness strained us. At 23 and 25 years of age, we weren't able to grapple with the illness and move forward. And I'm okay with that, as he went on to marry, have three children and a successful career.

Part of what Kiernan taught me is that I am capable of having a romantic relationship, chronic illness and all. 

It is possible to be a fully present partner even with the limitations of illness. It just takes some flexibility and help from your partner.

I also learned that what makes or breaks a couple when one of them has a chronic illness just may not be the illness at all. 

For us, it was more about what we wanted when it came to marriage, a child, financial security, and all of the other normal things that couples fight over, break up over, and ultimately can find to be irreconcilable differences.

This was the case for us. Or so I believe from my perspective. Kiernan's may be very different. And sadly, we both left the relationship feeling betrayed and hurt.

But, what broke us in the end was not my illness.

Even so, my illness made it harder for me to leave than it might otherwise have been. 

The loudest voice in my head is: "Who would want to date me with this illness?"

Kiernan saw me, not the illness.

I have to hope that another man will do the same some day.

Kiernan and I dated for over two years, and I do not regret any of it. I have grown so much over these past two years with him. And I continue to grow as I figure out my new path forward.

The past few months have been difficult, as Kiernan and I tried to find our way forward. I know that I gave it 110% of myself and that is the most we can ask of ourselves.

If Kiernan happens to read this post, I hope he sees that I only want the best for him, that I hope he can find his dreams and that I want only for him to be happy.

While I've sorted out whether to stay or leave this relationship, I've had little energy for blogging or keeping in touch. 

Here at the beach, I'm watching the waves crash on the shore and the tide move in and out...crying tears for what might have been, for the future I had hoped for, for the future that is now different, for the relationship that fell apart, for Kiernan's pain over the loss of a parent, for knowing this is the best decision for me, for knowing that doing the 'right thing' is often the hardest, for knowing that I was fortunate enough to know love again. 

Illness or not, breaking up is hard to do. But when we are chronically ill, it's quite a bit harder. 

Thank you to everyone who has lifted me up and continued to lift me up during this difficult time as I find my new path forward.



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