Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cancer and Relationships Part One. . . Has Cancer Left You Feeling Unworthy??

I realized for me the answer to this question is a resounding yes unfortunately. During my cancer treatment I was out there in the online dating world which as we know is tough enough without the added stress of being bald and boobless. I tried to be hopeful and wanted to continue with the parts of my life that I enjoyed and were important to me. Dating was one of those things. In my book Breastless in the City I share many of these dating experiences as well as the reasons why I stayed with men that were bad for me. One of those reasons had to do with cancer.

I didn't realize it at the time but I felt so unworthy because I had cancer that I made some pretty bad choices in men. I began to feel as though cancer made me instantly undateable. I felt like no man in their right mind would want to date a girl with cancer. Beyond the hair loss and losing a breast there was that tiny issue of survival! I wondered who would want to date a girl who might not survive another year. All of the self-esteem issues I struggled with my whole life really rose to the surface during that time.

So I met the guy who didn't mind I had cancer. He told me so. He told me he wanted to be the one to see me through it... the one to be by my side. It almost seemed to good to be true. And I would come to find that was exactly what it was. I began to dismiss the anger he had towards me, the unkind words, his thoughtless behavior, and how he was verbally abusive to his children. All that began to matter to me was that he was with me despite my cancer. I realized I felt so dam unworthy that I let myself stay in this bad relationship. And then I wanted out. It was then that he finally showed his true colors during a fight that went a little something like this...

"I just can't do this anymore. . . this isn't working" I said

"What are you talking about? What do you mean?" he asked with a puzzled look on his face.

"You know what I mean. I don't think we should see each other anymore. I'm sorry."

"What? After everything I did for you? This is how you thank me? Like this?" he said with an angered look on his face.

I stopped and wondered for a second just what he meant by that and almost didn't want to know. Unfortunately he quickly cleared up my confusion.

"You have no idea what I have done for someone like you." he said.

"Just what do you mean someone like me?" I asked

"You know. . . someone with cancer. You think there are alot of guys out there who would want to be with a girl who has cancer?"

In that moment he confirmed every fear I had about no man wanting to be with me because I had cancer. I had put him on some sort of pedestal he didn't deserve. I wondered if he was right.

Although I was angry at myself for wasting precious time with someone who was not worthy of it I did feel proud of myself for being strong enough to walk away despite all the fear.

How did cancer affect your relationships? Did you ever feel undateable because of cancer? Have you let yourself stay in a bad relationship because of your cancer? Did you find yourself reacting different to relationships than you had before your diagnosis?

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