Fear of Being Vulnerable: Dating and Sharing Your MS Diagnosis
Before the second date with the man who is now my partner, I looked up his name and found out that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2017. Reading about his diagnosis didn’t push me away from him – it made me want to know more about him.
Opening up to each other
On our second date, we had a conversation about his MS diagnosis, which opened us up to being more vulnerable even though we both had fear around how the other would respond to the conversation. He later shared with me how scared he was about the idea of having to tell me about his diagnosis and how relieved he was when I brought it up.
I chose to go on a third date with him because he was fun, living life, and quite handsome. I felt inspired by his journey of living fully with MS. I didn’t see his disease; I saw the beautiful man that he was and is today.
The fear of dating
As a professional counselor and life coach, I’ve listened to clients who have been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease say that they didn’t feel they would be able to date again or have a significant person in their life. They would ask, “Why would anyone want to date me? I have a disease.” I would then ask my client(s), “what if this is an opportunity for you to instill hope, courage, and empowerment to be yourself in spite of the diagnosis?"
I have witnessed healing when clients love, know, and accept who they are way beyond their disease.
Loving and supporting my partner
As a partner of a loved one diagnosed with MS, I choose to love and support him right where he is without sympathy, but empathy. I have seen his anger, pain, and fear. He knows that I am a safe space where he feels heard and seen. He chooses to live a beautiful, empowered life despite his diagnosis.
In no way am I saying that I know what it’s like to be diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease, or that I know how scary it would be to go on a date and put myself out there after being diagnosed. I am saying that we have a choice. When ready, we can to choose to love ourselves to move forward in our lives, even if it’s scary.
Yes, there are days that are almost unbearable, and days when we can choose to love ourselves right where we are and give ourselves the love we deserve. When we are ready, we just might become vulnerable and go on that date…we don't know unless we try.
I am so grateful that my partner chose to love himself enough to be vulnerable and have the courage to go on a date with me and just be himself. I hope others can choose to love themselves and be vulnerable, if and when they feel ready.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” ~ Bernard Baruch
Would it have been helpful to hear from others and their experiences when you were beginning your MS journey?
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