On Relationships After Transplant

I was wondering if this would be a little ~risky~ to write but a good friend once told me to write about the things you're afraid to so I'm gonna put myself out there a lil bit and hope it's not too cringe. I think I'm very open on here but at the same time quite private - I'm not sure I'd ever really revealed much about my personal life before, so it feels a little strange to be typing this out. But if even one person reads it and can relate then it's worth my pride!

When I came home from transplant more than one person said to me 'Ooh it'd be nice if you got a partner now!' which really bothered me for two reasons. First, the notion that it was something that I needed or wanted. I'd spent the most part of two years literally stuck in a hospital room unable to move more than one metre from the oxygen machines attached to the wall, so unsurprisingly I wanted to make the most of this new freedom without having to answer to anyone. Secondly, this idea that people with chronic illness and disabilities can't/don't/shouldn't date is a whole other blog post but an assumption that most able-bodied people seem to have for some reason. It annoyed me that people assumed it was the fact that I have CF that meant I didn’t have a long-term relationship – plenty do, I’m just undateable and annoying AF hahaha. I’m joking (even though it could very well be true) but also, you know, personal choice was a factor. There is absolutely no doubt that CF makes dating difficult, but it’s not impossible. I mean bloody hell, if the likes of people such as (feel free to insert whoever you want here, I feel bad namechecking) get married not once but multiple times then surely I had some hope because I’m not that bad I don’t think. I hope. I’ve just always savoured my freedom and independence and felt like what rare time I had before transplant that wasn’t spent doing medicines and treatments had to be entirely mine. I think I needed that time to be totally selfish, I’d have gone bonkers otherwise! Add that to being a bit of an introvert anyway and being so young, relationships just weren’t at the top of my priorities.

The first year after transplant I wasn’t very keen still, my head was all over the place and I was having trouble with the platonic friends and family relationships I’d had as the dynamics of those go completely out of whack post-transplant, which is again perhaps another blog post in itself. Adding another into the mix didn’t seem like a smart move. But obviously I jumped on the Tinder bandwagon along with everyone else, which I have to admit was fun – I like meeting new people and have some stories (those will never be repeated on here though, sorry nosey friends.) But then I met someone IRL (I know, WTF) and fell head over heels. But I would say that ended almost as suddenly as it began and although it was brief it affected me a lot. Too much if I’m honest, I spent a good few months Feeling Sad. Looking back, I feel a lot of emotions about that time ranging from absolutely mortified to grateful. I feel awful that I’d wasted precious time feeling down – I didn’t go through so much to spend weeks crying over someone who wore a trucker cap (like I said, mortified ok?) but without wanting to go all Ariana Grande on you I am appreciative of that time because it made me realise what not to do, which is essentially put all my happiness in the hands of someone else. A dangerous thing to do, but also very human as us humans are stupid. After transplant I wanted to experience everything, and heartbreak is very much part of the human existence isn’t it?

But when I got through it I knew it wasn’t something I’d want to go through again. I carried on seeing people but felt like I just went for things that I knew weren’t going to last, aka a lot of wanky 'artists' living in Peckham, as there was a kind of safety in that. There were wonderful people who offered me the world, but I rejected them because I was afraid which is something I’m not proud of. I went back to being as independent as I could and avoiding anything potentially serious so I think I went from one extreme to the other which is no way to live. It maybe sounds dramatic and although I in no way think these are feelings exclusive to me and someone who is post-transplant, I do think they're particularly common emotions if you're in that situation. It's that thing of feeling like you don't have enough time to figure stuff out and that you don't have much control over the timing of things in your life. Silly I know, because does anyone have any control over such things? But when you're very aware that you've got to try and fit a lifetime in a few short years sometimes it feels like the pressure is on.

However, I'm finally at a point now where I feel more relaxed and going with the flow - I feel less of the anxiety I felt in the first two years post transplant, which is maybe odd because as the years progress I'm getting closer to *danger.* But I feel more accepting of things and have realised that although there are many things I've yet to do the absence of those experiences don't take away the things I have done. The same can be applied to love, because for me it isn't the be all and end all. I thought 'Imagine if it never happens' and instead of feeling sad I felt free. It's just one of many things that can happen in a lifetime, there are so many beautiful things that can happen as well. I'm also lucky to be surrounded by other forms of love too - the love of my family, my friends, the love I feel for myself, the love I feel for my passions in life and of course the love I carry around with me every day thanks to the donor of these beautiful lungs, a stranger who I'll never know and who never knew me. 

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this long ramble - perhaps it was best left in my diary when I wrote it back in January. I suppose I just thought on the off chance that anyone has been feeling similar that you're not alone. Relationships are that bit more complicated sometimes, I get ya. Just remember that they're one aspect of life, don't let the media, your mother or Mariah Carey at Christmas time convince you it's the only thing to strive for. 

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