Relationships with Cystic Fibrosis
I believe that having relationships and falling in love is very important for every person, but it’s harder to navigate when you have an illness that can shorten your life, such as CF. I've approached relationships in several ways because, mentally, I had to change my perception.
Fear of love because of my CF
In my teens and early adulthood, I didn’t really date. I was in a mental state where I didn’t think about marriage or having a personal relationship with someone because I feared that my illness was too much to handle. I barely had a grip on it myself, so how could I possibly put that on someone else?
I was afraid of falling in love and I was afraid of being vulnerable to someone that wasn’t in my immediate family circle. Being sick is a full-time job, and I didn't know how someone else would fit into that--or even if someone could accept being with someone who lived with a question mark over waking up the next day.
I remember telling myself I wouldn’t get married, because I didn’t want to leave someone a widow. I put so much pressure on myself to stay alone and to die alone. I knew my family would suffer my death and the thought of bringing an outsider into that was too much for me.
Finding it anyways
I was 23 years old when I met my now-husband. I didn’t want to date him and I was terrified, but he was persistent. I remember during one conversation with him, I couldn’t keep my health a secret. I told him a week into meeting him, “I’m sick. I may not survive a long time to give you the type of relationship you want." He listened to what I said and took it all in. From that moment on, we became inseparable.
He took the time to learn about CF, he went with me to appointments and stood with me in the hospital, even sleeping on the uncomfortable chairs. We got married and have been together for over 10 years.
Not letting CF hold me back from love
One thing I learned about this whole process is how insecure I let CF make me feel. I let CF take over every aspect of my life, even letting it dictate whether I deserved to be loved by another person. I let the fear of unknowns dominate my life so much that I felt I didn’t deserve love. I was wrong.
Love comes in many forms, and I learned that when you find someone who wants to be there, let them. You would be surprised by how much dedication and acceptance you can receive by just taking chances. We face so many challenges as CFers--and loneliness is a part of it--but letting CF make you lonely because you’re scared isn’t fair to you.
Just because we’re sick doesn’t mean we can’t be loved. It means we can love at another level. We treasure our lives in a different way than someone who doesn’t face an uncertain future.
Whether it’s love from someone special, family, and friends, we deserve love. Trust me--there are people out there who will accept you, CF and all. Just trust that you deserve a special relationship just as much as anyone else.
Cystic fibrosis affects every aspect of life. Will you tell us about the realities of CF in our survey?