Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve (and a bag on my tummy)

I’m writing this post slightly intoxicated since I haven’t had the courage to write this sober yet, but here it goes:

 I’m not good at dating.

I’m awkward and say the wrong thing and make jokes that I think are hilarious but only a select few think are funny. To be completely honest since my teenage heart was broken I have not gathered myself enough to really date again. So I settled for games and excuses where a temporary fling was enough to get by and a casual trust in intimacy was adequate comfort.

And as the years pass, and as friends find love and build lives with their partners, my self confidence dwindles and lacks even further. The pressure is on more and more while I see my peers start families and homes while here I am in my parent’s house learning to live with an ostomy.

My confidence lowered as soon as I had a flare up. How do you explain having to excuse yourself from dinner multiple times to use the restroom? How do you come up with excuse after excuse not to sleep over at someone’s house because nighttime is when it’s worst? And then you get so sick that even meeting up for a drink is too draining and it sounds like you’re just being a flake when you bail. How do you maintain confidence when you get a puffy face and it looks like you gained 40 pounds? And then all your hair falls out. And there’s the very simple question of how do you start to date someone when you potentially will end up in the hospital again. How do you drag yet another person into the whirlwind of your medical drama?

Dating is hard.

And then there is a very big question of having to explain an ostomy?  For someone new to my life, how do I begin to explain the year I just went though and my life now? “Hey nice to meet you….Things are going great…..I like you….By the way I have an ostomy…Hope you’re okay with that….”

I have no idea how to explain the disease or the turmoil it has caused. I don’t know how to act like I’m okay and moving on, when 2015 had such an impact on my life. My ostomy is who I am now. So when do I bring it up? How do I explain that I’m still me but now I have a bag that makes me healthy me? How can I be confident in a body that’s so different than the norm? I love my body because I’m healthy but I am so scared of it because it’s so unusual.

I usually end each post with my own conclusions or with a positive note but I am somewhat at a loss. I am completely open and honest and love who I am. Yet lack so much confidence and poise when it comes to finding a partner who can love me back. I’m going to end this post as a cliff hanger: A stay tuned because I believe that this is part of the process too. I need to find assurance in myself before I can possibly accept assurance from others but believe that self-love is a big step. I can recognize that dating is hard for anyone. But kudos to those who love despite the extra baggage.

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2 thoughts on “Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve (and a bag on my tummy)

  1. To my anonymous angel,
    Thank you for sharing such a touching story. You did not need to take the time to write something to beautiful to a complete stranger but you did, and it was incredible. You are a very strong person and I am happy you have found love. I am extremely thankful for coming into contact with someone so honest and kind and I hope I too can one day use your advice and find love, in another person and also myself.

    I wish you nothing but health and happiness. Enjoy that Prince Charming of yours ❤

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  2. Stacey, I wanted to start by saying you are a strong person and you may not know it but it takes a great deal of courage to share your thoughts and be vulnerable. I stumbled upon your blog and was surprised as I started to read, your words really resonated with me. Having been through a lot myself, I too would often worry and have thoughts about the why’s and what if’s. I however was never brave enough to share my thoughts or feelings and if I ever tried saying them out loud I’d get choked up and cry. I used to think “why did this happen to me? My body is not the same and never will be, nobody will want to date me with a disfigured,scarred body. I’m broken.” I too was young when I went through my own experience and also lost my hair and had a puffy face from chemotherapy. I felt like the same person, I still joked and laughed, but sometimes when I walked by a mirror I’d be horrified to see that I didn’t look like “me”. Losing my hair was difficult too but I knew I didn’t have a choice and that it would eventually come back. Following chemotherapy I had an extensive surgery that left me cancer free but changed for the worse, or so I thought. The obvious change to me was the scarring on my body from surgery and a how parts of my body looked disfigured. I could not get over it…I spent hours in a change room once crying because I couldn’t find a bathing suit I felt comfortable in and I was going away with all my friends to a cottage. I compared my body to other girls my age and it was a difficult time. I hid it to the best of my ability and hoped nobody would notice or i’d avoid going places where bathing suits were involved or said I didn’t feel like swimming. I often wondered “what if I start dating someone and like them but when they see my imperfections they don’t like me, what will they think? I’ll feel embarrassed….it’s not going to happen…nobody will want to be with me.” To my pleasant surprise I ended up dating a guy who was one of my best friends….everyone says there significant other is their best friend but he really was….before we started dating! He knew about my medical history and had seen me throughout my experience…with a wig…in a wheelchair…puffy face and all. We are now married and have been for a number of years. He has never treated me different because of my body in fact when I bring it up he says I’m crazy and it’s nothing. It’s like he doesn’t even notice or care. It’s his reaction and attitude towards what I couldn’t get over and what once was a big deal that has shaped the way I feel about me now. I too don’t care anymore, I don’t compare my body to others in fact I’m proud that I have gone through so much and succeeded and my body is a testament to that! I also now realize that my experience did change me….but not for the worst. Maybe my surgery left me changed physically..but my experience has motivated me and has left me with a gift. I look at every day differently, in a way I couldn’t have even imagined before. Life is too short to worry about your imperfections….they don’t define you as a person. My advice to you is keep being you… and yes we all have days where we are hard on ourselves or don’t think things are going as planned, that’s ok too just don’t dwell on it. Cry if you need to..crying is not a sign of weakness but rather strength. Someone who is able to cry and express their emotions is far stronger than someone who holds everything in. When your done having your moment…take a deep breath and move forward. Maybe one day you will meet your Prince Charming or maybe you already have and you just don’t know it….he will love you for you…baggage and all!

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