This year has been far from easy for many of us but it has certainly put me on the ropes a few times. I recently came out of an 11 years relationship which was immediately preceeded by a 5 year one. So even though I have been chronically ill all my life I am slightly apprehensive about dating again and when to discuss my health let alone my stoma.
When I was 21 I was with a guy called Stewart; we had a very up and down relationship to say the least but although he wasn’t great when it came to me being in hospital he was really supportive whilst I was managing a flare at home. He also discussed with me the pros and cons about having the pouch formed and my large bowel being removed. Some of the things he did after that surgery no boyfriend should have to do but he did. We split up 2 years after that surgery for completely unrelated reasons and I in rather quick succession got with Steven who would end up being my husband.
He was better at the hospital side of things but I think it helped I was either pregnant with one of our children or practically unable to move and needed to be there. He at least found it easier to visit than Stewart did. When it came to having my stoma he was the one who helped me through the idea and didn’t make a big issue of it when it came to intimacy. He came to events with me and genuinely just wanted me to be well again or as well as I was ever going to get considering I am not as well as I look!
For no apparent reason over the last 2 years I have become hyper aware of my stoma and it definitely didn’t help the mood! Now I have found myself single I am worried about how I will bring up my bag; which is odd because it has never been something I have shied away from talking about (in Great detail to some of my friends!) I think would it be easier if that was the ONLY thing health wise I have to deal with rather than 5 chronic health conditions and 4 mental health ones.
I either feel like I’m too complicated or just a walking nightmare! I mean only the anxiety and depression are things potential dates would have heard about or even possibly experienced and even though the stigma is reducing the potential fear I feel is increasing. That aside I have the body image issue looming like a darkening shadow; surgeries and children have taken their toll on my body and even though I appreciate the trauma it’s been through I’m not ready to love and accept it yet. That if it ever happens won’t be an overnight wham bam thank you mam done jobbie nope it will be an ever evolving issue I have to work with from the inside out.
I’m not even sure I’m ready to start dating yet or if ever if I’m honest and one of my friends who has jumped back into the pool has kind of been my experiment as we discuss at length various scenarios or telling the potential partner the least complicated conditions or more well known ones first. Her trial and error is at least giving me some foresight before it comes to my turn.
I know the right person or let’s be honest here the right sexual partner won’t care about the bag it’s there and certainly not going anywhere but it’s all the other bumf they could potentially have to deal with such as:
- Passing out
- Joints partially dislocating
- Pain during sex
- A bag leak (that so far has never happened to me during sex and long may it continue)
- Hospital admissions
- Extreme mood swings
Just to name a few off the top of my head!
I know in reality I need my life to be on a much more even keel and be comfortable in myself again before I even dip my toes into the dating pool and that even stretches as far as nor being confident enough to download a dating app! I see so many “healthy” friends struggle with partners of all genders that I’m not sure I am brave enough yet and that is aside from the health problems.
Then we have the added issue of covid whether it’s just the government not knowing if they are coming or going with constant changes in guidelines and advice or the fact you just don’t want to risk getting sick in case you are unlucky and it knocks you back. I’m not sure if anyone or any intimate situation is worth that for me just yet!
How have you navigated the dating scene either after surgeries or being in long term relationships? Have you just thought stuff it and throw caution to the wind or have you been more like a hermit not wanting to risk it?