I was having breakfast with an elderly, male friend yesterday and he looked at me and said “do you never wear makeup, or jewellery?”. The question took me aback. It was 9.45 on a Sunday morning, we’re sat in a cafe in a tiny rural farming village and I had just walked (aka scootered) my dog for 3 miles in the rain – why on earth would I be dolled up?! So I just looked at him and said “why, do I need adornments? Am I not perfect just as I am?” which threw him, because it’s not like he could say “no you look like shit and need artificial help” 😉 I wouldn’t care, but because of my wig my hair always looks immaculate and due to my lovely, unblemished hEDS skin I look 10 years younger than I actually am, which is pretty darned good for a chronically ill 51 year old even though I do say so myself.
My whole life, men have wanted a perfect version of me. That’s because they are drawn to me because of how I look, not for who I am on the inside. It didn’t matter to my biological Dad that I was the most intelligent kid at school, and it didn’t matter to my ex-husband that I was the most attractive woman in any room, it was never enough. I was never enough. That incorrect judgement, which started when I was a self-conscious teenager, changed how I thought of myself until I was in my forties, and it’s taken until I am in my 50s for me to challenge the kinds of statements my friend made to me this morning.
One of the reasons I have been single since I became ill 25 years ago is that men struggle to accept my disabled life. Despite being told of my limitations there is constant pressure to join in their healthy life, and early on in my illness I did try. I made myself horrendously ill going out for dinner in the evenings, going for walks in the countryside and travelling for hours in a car that made me vomit to the point of dehydration….. but not any more. Y’see, there is never any desire on their part to join in my disabled life. To sacrifice their precious time off work to lie in bed watching B list movies when the sun is shining outside, or to forgo their annual holiday in Greece to keep me company. It’s always a very one-sided affair with my needs not being met in order to make my partner happy, and it’s taken a very long time to realize that my needs are just as important as anyone elses.
When we love someone, we have to love them for who they are not what we’d ideally like them to be. After all, we’re far from perfect and expect them to love us faults, flaws and all.I really don’t know why I’m never enough for the men in my life. I am a truly exceptional human being who has walked a path so difficult it’s a wonder I am still standing. And not only am I still standing but I am living with joy, integrity and passion despite all the odds being stacked against me. I deserve to be surrounded by people who celebrate that, and the beautiful person I’ve always been, and so do you.