I just got off the phone with one of my all-time favorite people. She just broke up with her boyfriend of two years, because – as he explained it – he doesn’t see a future between them. Somewhere in my self-aggrandizing brain, I’ve come to view myself as the only scared, single 20-something alive. Rationally I know this is not true, and though the MS thing definitely sharpens my fear of perpetual singledom, I do not have (nor want) a monopoly on loneliness.
While listening to her tonight, she said something that made me think. She said, and I paraphrase, “People say I’ll find a better guy, but I’m starting to think that everyone’s pretty much a mess. We go through break-ups in order to give us time to breathe and recover enough to deal with another person’s bucket of shit.”
So here I am, an hour and a half later, thinking about my own bucket of shit. It comes in the form of a wheelchair, but inside it there’s all the fear and disappointment and anger that have grown out of a decade with MS. I’m sure there’s other shit in my bucket by now, but everything MS-related is definitely the heaviest for me to carry, and the hardest for me to share. In spite of this, though, I might actually have a leg up on several other single 20-somethings out there: I’m acutely aware of what’s in my bucket. And while I typically reserve the articulation of my MS-related struggles for my journal, anyone I date sees the majority of my “mess” immediately. I guess this should be viewed as a positive. I’ll never ask anyone to go burying through my bucket of shit only to discover the real deal-breaker five years down the road.
In addition to this oh-so-sophisticated bucket of shit epiphany, I realized something else. My friend – MS or not – is hurting just as badly as I ever have. Post-breakup, she’s filled with the same type of fear, self-doubt and sadness as I am. And just because her own “mess” doesn’t include a neurological disease, doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, heal from and eventually share with someone new.