People who have chronic pain get asked a lot of questions from day-to-day. Apparently we are very interesting to the general public. I mean other than being badasses, I’m not sure what’s so special. It is hard to find someone who is in the thick of early adulthood and willing to speak out about what chronic pain can do. I guess I’m trying to say that most people with CRPS specifically don’t discuss the ideas of growing up with the chronic pain. I know this because over the last couple of years I have searched all over for someone who I can relate to. This blog is going to be about one of those early adulthood subjects. Dating. Yes, freakin dating.
I was always a more intimidating girl even prior to CRPS. All through high school, I was lucky enough to have a very tight group of friends. Something specific to me is that I tended to have more friends that were guys. Girls just bring way too much drama. Listen, I’m a girl, I completely know. If you are denying it- you are trying to avoid it. Anyways-ignore that rant- but this meant that occasionally I would have a crush on a guy friend or they would have one on me. I typically would say no or blow up the situation if I would find out a guy was going to ask me out. Don’t even ask me why. I don’t know why the hell I’d do that unless it was just because I wasn’t ready. Remember, this was all before the age of 16. Who knows, maybe if I knew what was to come I would have said yes to a few dates. What a freakin mistake.
After my first surgery, I was “talking” to a guy in my high school theater group. I remember thinking to myself that I should wait until this pain stuff goes away. So, I essentially shut that down. For the moms out there who don’t know what “talking” is, it’s basically dating without labels or commitment. As high school continued and I began getting older, I was starting to get interested in dating. However, there would always be some excuse as to why I wouldn’t date. Most of the time it was “we are too close of friends now to date” (bullshit Alexis, you were “talking” but decided to end it). Then I got to college and things got complicated. I met new people, hung around, and started struggling with a tug of war between myself and CRPS.
I wanted to date right when I was a freshman. I met a guy who ended up asking me out. I decided to say no. CRPS one that round. However, this continued all 4 years. I would get close, they’d ask me out, I’d say no. I never realized why. I wanted to experience dating and having fun, but I just would go with my gut every time. That was until I started focusing on myself and I realized why:
What I realized was that I was scared to date. I was scared to let anyone close to me other than my family and my few good friends. I didn’t want to get closer to someone because I didn’t want them to see the real me and all my trauma. People with CRPS know how to put up a front. I truly believe we are the ultimate actors. We can turn our reaction to pain on and off. It almost makes me sad with how good I am. But when someone gets too close, it’s hard not to show it all the time. I remember thinking, what if I shake during dinner, or check out during the movie, or can’t play mini golf. I knew I couldn’t hide my condition and that scared the shit out of me. The other thing is that I didn’t want to place the burden of a “sick girl” on anyone I liked or could potentially love. I knew how hard it was watching me be in so much pain, I did not want to add anyone else to the list. In my head I was protecting each person from my world. My world of pain. I struggled to see all the good things and benefits about me and dating me. I closed everyone who I felt like I could get too close to, out. I truly believed that I could never be good enough for anyone. I believed that I couldn’t provide someone with all their needs if I could barely provide myself my own. Boy were these beliefs wrong.
So now, here we are in the present. I am now a 22 year old girl who hasn’t kissed anyone, gone out on a date, or been in a relationship. I know, humiliating. But this is real. This is all me. And this is some of the affects chronic pain has on people’s lives. There isn’t a small area it affects. The longer you have it, the more of your life it takes up. But that isn’t the only option. We don’t have to let it continue spreading like a wildfire. It is up to you- CRPS doesn’t need to always win the tug of war. Don’t let it monopolize your life. I am deciding here and now to take my life back. So I’ll be waiting. I’ll be waiting for that person who accepts everything about me and who I don’t have to hide from. Because let’s be real, they wouldn’t be dating CRPS. They’d be dating Alexis. From now on I will be saying yes to those I’m interested in. I now realize I have a lot to give. If I can’t help them open a new bottle of water-who the hell cares? This will take a while to get the full confidence and I am working on it day by day. In the meantime- wanna go on a date?