“I don’t have a choice, but he does. He doesn’t have to choose this type of life.”
I said this to my mom with tears in my eyes just before my bypass surgery four years ago. At the time, I had been in a relationship with my boyfriend for three years. During the first few years, he supported me through an emergency pacemaker surgery, carried me upstairs after I lost consciousness, and saw me at some of my weakest moments.
I have offered him the choice of leaving on many occasions. I’ve told him, “You don’t have to choose this.” I’ve even asked, “Why would you want this?”
I feared abandonment for so much of my life and projected that onto my relationship. But convincing myself that I wouldn’t care if someone left me never did me any good. If anything, questioning how and why someone would choose me only increased my self-doubt.
I wondered how someone would want to be with me when they see me going through health challenges. How can someone love me when I don’t have much strength to love myself? I felt flawed in all aspects of my life, as if they were beyond my control. I often hated my disease and resented the sacrifices that my life partner would have to make to be with me in the ways I needed him to be.
After many emotional arguments relating to my health and our relationship, my boyfriend reminded me that it’s his choice. He assured me that he knows how bad it gets. He knows that on some days I spend most of the time in bed and can’t socialize with friends. He knows that we need to live close to the hospitals that care for me. He’s aware of my limitations. He realizes that having children with me won’t involve a typical surprise pregnancy announcement.
Many aspects of life are different for us. I used to think that this was a bad thing, but he’s reassured me that it’s just our plan.
I find it hard to accept the many personal and physical limitations in my relationship and my life. I struggle to make peace with it and say, “OK, this is the life I get. Let me make the best of it.” It’s difficult to keep a positive attitude, especially on days when I feel worn down. But it’s easier to accept my reality when I have someone in my life who is always hopeful and wants the best for me and our future.
I have spent countless nights wondering how someone could love me like this. Why would someone want to marry me when I don’t know where my health will be in five years? My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years, and I am forever grateful that he continues to choose me every single day. He chooses a life with me and all that it comes with it: the good, the ugly, and the traumatic.
At Christmas, I became his fiancée, and the moment we got engaged, I felt so thankful and blessed to have someone in my life who helps to tune out the static and worry in my head. To have someone who reminds me over and over again, “I choose you.”
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.