Sunday, February 20, 2011

When Love Isn’t Enough

Above is my “love note” that was printed in the latest issue of Lupus Now magazine.

Why the public declaration of love? Because in the dictionary, love comes before lupus. Coincidentally, it also comes before rheumatoid arthritis, too. (Lucky me!) Because I’m in love; every hour of the day, every day of the week.

But I guess that doesn’t matter now. What I intended to write here isn’t what I’m going to write, because what I was going to write about doesn’t exist anymore.

My relationship of over a year is over. And honestly, I’m as shocked as you are.

Devastated doesn’t begin to sum up the way I feel right now.

Relationships are hard. They take work. And you don’t just take what we had and throw it away, especially without so little of a coherent explanation. It just doesn’t make sense.

I remember our first date like it was yesterday, and our second, and our third, and our fourth. I remember how my head fit perfectly into the crook of his arm as we slept. I remember the way that he took care of me when I was in the hospital, how he stayed with me all night in the ER after working for 24 hours the night before.

But I’ll also never forget the look on his face when he said, “I need to talk to you.” And I’ll never forget the pain of having to pack up my stuff from his place, to exchange keys, and say goodbye. I’m nauseous just thinking about it.

Or the way he cried, too. But if doing this is so upsetting to you, why did you do it?

Right now there are too many memories. Too many unanswered questions. Just too much.

Does love conquer all?

I don’t know.

Does love heal?

I don’t know.

But I am certain that love helps, especially when you find the person who is the missing piece to your puzzle.

The thing is, I really thought that I had found that person. What’s more, I wasn’t scared anymore. Well, that’s not quite true. I did worry that at some point, sooner or later, this would all become too much for him, and he’d realize he signed on to a nightmare.

But now I’m the one in a nightmare that I wish I could wake up from. I saw myself marrying this man, and having children with him, and coping with the ups and downs of illness together. No matter what, we would get through it together, as long as we had each other.

I loved, and still do, love this man with all my heart. Together we made sense, or so I thought.

I’m scared, first, of living a life alone that was once so entwined with someone else’s. How to be single again? How not to go to his place or call him on the phone to share the events of my day? How to live with the specter of illness, as a never-ending cycle, without it mattering in intimate ways to another person? And I worry that my health, which in some ways was relatively stable while I was in this relationship, won’t stay that way.

I know that ultimately, I will survive this. That’s what I do. I survive and I soldier on. Writing helps me cope, so I’m sure I will be sharing more with you as things become clearer, although I’m not so sure they ever really will.

In, reality, illness took a backseat to love. So now I’m left with me and these illnesses, in a world that makes no sense at all. And for right now, that has to be enough.

When you look in the dictionary, love comes before lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But there’s a single letter that comes before all three of those things: I. No matter what, I have to love myself.


  1. Leslie, I am truly sorry to read of the ending of your special relationship.
    This must be such a difficult time for you; I will be thinking of you, and sending you thoughts of strength. Gentle (((((hugs))))).

  2. So sorry to hear about your break up. You are brave to share about it on here. I have MS and I am single. You are able to survive this!

  3. Oh, Leslie! I'm *so* sorry for the pain you're going through right now. I wish there were something I could do to help you through it ... If we were local, I would totally be bringing you chocolate. (Hey, scientists have proven that helps heal a broken heart!)

    You are smart, beautiful, funny and a wonderful person. Your illnesses do not define you in any way. And I love that you already know which is your most important relationship -- the one with yourself.

    Be as well as you can be, Leslie. You're in my thoughts and prayers!

  4. Truly feeling your pain. I thought one of us might escape the relationship problem for chronicers. Hang in there Leslie!

  5. *anon offers you hugs*

    I've followed this blog for some time. Your writing really helped me come to terms with my own illness. As well as the possibility of love. Or, at least considering trying again at it. If illness has taught me has been to enjoy every moment when life "works". And, to see the contents of every moment for what they are-- right in their own time and perhaps no longer right the next. Maybe, it's because I'm one of those "everything happens for a reason" types. But, even if our lessons permanent and moments temporary, heartbreak is never easy. And, I've serious solidarity sentiments.

    May today bring you something beautiful and comforting. Be well.

  6. {{{{{LESLIE}}}}} You sound healthy though your pain comes through. It's always hard to walk away with your head held high when the heart wants nothing more than to be sequestered from the ache. I hope whatever his reasoning, you find an answer as this is truly the hardest part I would have difficulty with. NO explanation is just cruel. I would say count yourself lucky and walk away. Not a tear shed for someone to be so cold as this. Hugs to you as you heal physically and emotionally.

  7. my heart is with you! i truly understand how hard it is to end a relationship. i love you girl and you will get through it and be stronger for it! xo

  8. I found you through PFAM's blog carnival.
    Your post is very moving. I too was in a relationship like that. I still look back on it and wonder what went wrong. But thankfully, I found someone new, someone who is so much more. It was so hard to trust him, and even now (we've been together for over 10 years and married for over 6) I will wonder if it will end, if he will wake up some day and say "I can't deal with this any more." But I have to believe him when he says that he is so grateful to be here for me.
    You said the perfect thing at the end of your post. Love yourself.
    I know you are in pain, and I know that there is really nothing I can say to help. But know that I want to. I hope that helps a little.


  9. Leslie,

    I found you through PFAM.

    I'm so sorry to read of your heartbreak. I, too, was in a relationship for over a year where we loved each other, and I was head-over-heels, and she broke up with me, saying, "I don't want to be with someone who is sick."


    It turned out that it was good she broke up with me then, because later, after I met my partner of over 6 years -- my life partner -- I got much, much, much sicker. My former love would have abandoned me in the midst of my worst years.

    Right now it might feel like there is nothing but pain and loss and grief. But you will make it through, and there very well might be someone else who is more WORTHY of you.

  10. you have my thoughts and prayers.

  11. Ugh - I hate hearing of the end of things, but the end of things with chronic illness is that much harder. I am sorry that it's over :(

  12. Leslie – I am so sorry to hear your relationship ended, to lose the person you love is one of the hardest pains to experience, regardless of circumstances. What I want to say is please don’t give up hope because you have given so much hope to others through your blog, myself included, who only found it recently due to my own new lupus diagnosis. Your writing is so honest, refreshing and just really really funny  I’m still working my way through it all & I hope you feel up to writing again soon. Just make sure you take care of yourself & do every little or big thing that helps ease your pain. Sending you lots of virtual hugs Holly xxx

  13. Beautiful, heartfelt post. Sorry to read about your loss :(
    Sometimes love just ain't enough.

  14. Leslie,
    When I saw this I cried because I'm right there with you. I understand exactly what you're going through because I'm only a little farther along in the process than you are. Same type of thing happened to me - the dreaded "I need to talk," and the next thing you know, a bomb has gone off and you're left to pick up the pieces of your life.
    It's especially hard with an illness. It's hard to have hope for the future..... but one thing I do know, even though I'm still reeling from my break up, is that the struggles of having chronic illness make us that much more prepared to pick up, move on, and put everything back together. One day, we'll wake up and things WILL be better - and we'll be better for all of this.
    Hang in there...... (((hugs)))

  15. Sh*t. I'm sorry hon. Really sorry. *hugs*

  16. oh, leslie. i am SO sorry to hear the news. hang in there sweetie.

  17. I am just reading this from your new years entry. Haven't been on in awhile. I'm so sorry to hear this! I have been there before and am here currently. Dating is much more complicated and scary to me when you're desalting with issues like you and I have. I have found comfort knowing I can handle my illness and can only stand to date someone if they are supportive and loving in the way they need to be. Otherwise, I am happier being single because I'm not stressed and don't get flared up from emotional issues. If he is not generally a positive influence in my life, I am emotionally and physically better without him. I do believe some relationships happen to help get me throu difficult times, and they have left when it started to get bad or bring me down. For that I am grateful. And I'm still hopeful for that one guy that remains positive for life. Like I tell people, this crap ain't for pansies. I can see you have so much strength and I pray it will see you through to a better year.