A young love, marriage, kids—then Rheumatoid Arthritis

A young love, marriage, kids—then Rheumatoid ArthritisMy Manga adventures continue. Lately I have been doing tutorials by Mark Crilley.  They are amazing!  And amazing fun.  Highly recommended if you want to flex some artistic muscles…but you don’t know where to start.  Or maybe those muscles have atrophied over the decades, as mine have.

I found a tutorial on how to draw two people kissing. Young people.  The picture has a blissful innocence about it.  The perfect first kiss.  It conveys all the hope and anticipation that only a first kiss with someone you adore can bring.

Or that’s what it says to me.

So I had to try and draw it.  See if I could capture that innocence, that feeling, that moment.

But as I started to draw, as the lines began to take shape, so did my sadness.

Why?

Because I was drawing young love.  I was drawing innocence.  And my mind naturally travelled back to when I was young.  When I was innocent (to the ravages of RA).  To when I was in love.

Back to the day I met the man I knew I would marry.  I remember the moment. And I remember the feeling.  I always will.  There was an instant sense of ‘we belong’.   An instant feeling of happiness in his presence.  As the cliché goes, it was as if we’d known each other forever.

Love is like that.  You can’t search for it. It finds you, ready or not.

It’s now twenty years later.  We have two beautiful children, and the rock band is long over.  But so is our marriage.

There’s the twist!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  Well, neither did I.  Not even a little bit.

He said I changed.

Yes, it’s true. I did.  I changed a lot.

But I didn’t do it on purpose.  Rheumatoid Arthritis changed me.  I went from a very positive, fit, mostly smiling, runs-5kms-during-her-lunchbreak-for-fun kinda person, to a person who lay on the couch most of the day.  Who talked about pain a lot.  Who didn’t smile that often.  Someone who even cried from time to time.

Our social life dwindled.  We became isolated.  I became isolated.  I lost my job.   The financial pressure didn’t help.

I didn’t know what autoimmune arthritis was.  So I googled.  I spent a lot of time learning about my illness.  A lot of time online researching.

My husband did not. He, like so many others, thought if I stopped thinking about it so much, it would go away.

Erm. No. It doesn’t quite work that way.  If only it did!

Hindsight being 20/20 I should have been more understanding of his needs.  But I was completely wrapped in what was happening to me, in my body, in my pain.

I don’t think it an uncommon story.

What is uncommon is that we both worked very hard at being friends.  Real friends.  Ironically I feel much more supported by him now than I did when we were married.  We are still a family.

And in the future?  Will I find love again?

Yes.  One day.

Will the same thing happen?

No.

Because there will be a major difference this time.

This time, when I meet someone, they will only know me as I am now.   A rheumatoid patient.  With a side of lupus, spiced with a few other diseases.

I won’t be competing with my former self, who let’s face it, was pretty awesome J.

They will only know this person.  Who’s heart is still as big.  Who has just as much love to give.  Who can still make intelligent conversation, even if she can’t run 5kms anymore.  Who still has opinions and emotions and dreams and desires.  Who still laughs a lot and has a lot of fun, even if sometimes it has to be from the couch. If sometimes it has to be a DVD instead of going to the moves.  If sometimes it has to be takeout rather than a restaurant.

And who is still more than capable of making someone very, very happy.

One day. But for now, the someone that I’m going to make happy, is me.

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