(Today’s blog post is part of a continuing series of personal stories about living with Trigeminal Neuralgia, the most painful diagnosis known to man.)
“I think you are blind to the fact that the hand you hold is the hand that holds you down.” – Everclear
This. A million times, this. It’s one of those lines that made me catch my breath when I first heard it. Maybe it’s because it is at once both simple and profound. Maybe it’s because I think it’s a sentiment that applies to a lot of people. Maybe it’s because I know it applied to me.
I’m not just writing about TN here, but I’ll start with that. The impacts of Trigeminal Neuralgia are not limited just to the sufferer. It’s a family condition. And a friend condition. It is one of those things that happens in life where you find out who’s really in there for the long haul. Probably most TNers have been surprised – both pleasantly and sadly – by the people who stick around.
And honestly, it’s kind of easy to understand those people in our lives who go on the relationship lam, even if it hurts when it happens. We cancel plans. A lot. We go through days where we can’t eat or talk or shower. Sometimes all we can muster is the energy to move from the fetal position on the bed to the fetal position on the sofa.
But here’s the thing…I’ve been single for the last five years after being in a long-term relationship. And I’d be lying if I didn’t wonder (okay panic) that maybe I’ll always be alone. Yet I’d rather be alone than be with someone who makes me feel worse about having this condition than I already do. Or someone who gets angry over things I cannot control. The limitations of having TN plays on our self-esteem enough without having someone else jump on the pile.
Yet there are other ways that we get held down aside from just lack of sympathy. The relationship I was in was with a good guy and we’re still good friends. Yeah, I know everyone says that but it’s true. However, one of the main problems we had is that while we walked this earth hand-in-hand, we held each other down. The person we were with our friends or family was not who we were with each other. And that is really, really not okay. It’s like we brought out the somber side of each other, and unfortunately, we both have a somber side. So we were like two “Yins” in search of a “Yang”. And two Yins creates an imbalance to the harmony of things. Sometimes, you just gotta have a Yang.
There are a million reasons why we both morphed into alter egos with each other, some more serious than others, and I have no interest in airing the really dirty laundry. And none of them have to do with TN. I will say that I feel as if I sacrificed much of who I really am to keep the peace and make sure he was happy. I was so wrapped up in making sure he was okay that somehow I lost myself in the process. And that’s on me. I created that dynamic out of love, commitment but also fear. Afraid that if I was more assertive that he would cut and run. Somehow, it never occurred to me that maybe he should have been worried that I would be the one to leave.
Do I regret leaving? No I don’t but that isn’t saying it was easy. Plus the fact that my TN kicked in with a vengeance shortly after I was on my own was a bit of a buzzkill. But over time, and in spite of the TN, I have gotten back to a “me” I haven’t been in many years and I don’t mask who I am for anyone.
I still have faith that one day I will find someone to hold my hand. And instead of holding me down, we both will soar. (But seriously, if you know someone send them my way.)