Of course, I remember when I write in this blog or for HowIFightMS.com. I remember when I read someone else's MS blog. I remember when I read that an MS Facebook friend isn't feeling well. But during those times, the realization is sort of like, "Oh ya. I have MS." It's not bad. It just is. I think that's because I truly believe that I am not going to die of MS, die disabled, or even die with MS. I believe there is going to be a cure in my lifetime. So, ya, I have MS like how someone has diabetes or asthma. It's there and I have to manage it, but it doesn't define me. Most of the time, I feel like I am incredibly fortunate.
The yucky reminders are the ones that come when someone finds out I have MS and they seem to see me differently. When it's a man I find attractive, it kind of sucks. Especially if I felt strong, sexy, and intelligent in their eyes before. All of a sudden, the person mentions my MS without me mentioning it first (I am kind of all over the place on social networks, etc. so I shouldn't really be surprised) and BOOM. Suddenly, I see myself how they see me...or how I fear that they see me. I feel defective and damaged and just not good enough. It sucks.
Some guys don't like feminists. I am one so they may not like me. But that feels different. I don't really want to hang out with someone who doesn't respect my core beliefs. It's not really a rejection when you don't care for the person very much in the first place.
Some guys may just not find me physically attractive.Maybe they like blonds or skinny women. I'm brunette and, while I'm not fat, I'm not skinny either. I suppose if I wanted to kill myself in the gym and cut my calories in half, I might be able to get skinny and I could certainly dye my hair, but I don't want to. Most days, I like the way I look and feel in my body. So that's different, too. I don't find every person attractive and I get that not everyone is going to find me attractive. Some people like Fettucine Alfredo, some people like Linguine Marinara. One isn't bad and the other good. It's just a matter of taste.
But my MS is different. It just is. No matter what I eat, wear, or think, it will not go away. And, even though I mean it when I say that it's a blessing in my life, it isn't exactly something that I sought out or put on my Christmas list. I've worked pretty hard to shift my perspective to see it as a blessing and I work pretty hard to keep it from shifting back.
Today, I am working overtime. I understand that MS is the kind of thing that brings up lots of misconceptions for people. They hear MS and maybe they think of the one person they know with the disease who is in a wheelchair. No matter what I do or say, some people will view me as sick, disabled, or just different. And, if you don't really know the person very well and they don't voice these thoughts, you just see the reflection of yourself in their eyes and there really isn't space to say anything at all. And that sucks.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not the MS. Maybe I'm using MS as a cop out because I don't want to accept that the person I like doesn't like me back...or least not in the way I want him to. He doesn't LIKE me, like me, as my daughter says. Maybe I'm Vegetarian Lo Mein and he prefers General Gaos Chicken. Maybe he doesn't think I'm funny or find my laugh annoying. Maybe my legs are too heavy or he's the kind of boy who doesn't make passes at girls who wear glasses. But you know what? Because I have MS, the doubt is there. And it sucks.
And, because I'm me, I sometimes turn that kind of crap inward. All day today, I've been asking my higher power to help me not beat up on myself, woulda/shoulda/coulda myself and to let go of my unrequited crush and point that energy in a positive direction. I'm doing the things that make me feel good about me: church, music, friends, reading, and writing. I need to trust the Universe that I will be taken care of no matter what and that the right people will be put in my life at the right time for the right reasons. I also have to remember that it's a good thing that every good looking guy doesn't want me because I'd be exhausted!
I have a friend who often reminds me that I am perfectly worthy. It's just all my fears and misconceptions that make me think I'm not. In the words of Stuart Smalley, my favorite unlicensed therapist, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough. And, Gosh Darnit...people like me.