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We didn't survive his illness

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  March 5, 2013 08:57 AM

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Q: Two years ago, I met an amazing man. Let's call him Bryan. Bryan and I hit it off right away. We took many trips and had a great relationship where we constantly supported each other. You could say our first year was like a fairy tale. Everything was great until our first anniversary when he became terribly sick and spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals.

We stuck together and I tried to support him any way I could. At first they thought his illness was fatal -- then they didn't know if he would ever get better. Even worse, some of his doctors didn't believe he was really sick. We went to many hospitals and saw specialists. Throughout the year, I spent almost every weekend by his bedside and some nights during the week. I was working full time and going to school, and the time was very challenging for both of us. As time went on, I felt like he was pulling more and more away from me and our relationship. I started to get more worried about our future and eventually slipped into a depression. We tried to take a short trip away, but his illness impacted what we could do and I was constantly sad that the love of my life was so sick. He wasn't acting at all like his old self. Everything about our relationship had changed. This summer he asked me what we would do if he never got better and nothing changed. I told him my concerns about our future and was honest that although I want to spend my life with him, I wasn't sure what the future would hold.

That was the beginning of the end. From that point on, he started visiting me less and canceling plans. When we would hang out, he was always angry. I came to the point where I felt like I needed some emotional and physical support. When I started needing his support, he couldn't pull through and became selfish and focused only on himself. I felt like I just couldn't put myself second forever, and that I needed to be supported too. Through hard conversations and some arguments, we broke up. I was heartbroken and so was he, but neither of us had answers on how to fix anything. A few weeks later, he was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and started a medicine regiment. We talked, but were both hesitant on what would happen if we got back together since he was adamant that he could not put much effort into our relationship.

Fast forward two months later and here we are. He has started improving little by little. I reached out to him to see if he would get back together, but through a long confusing conversation, he said that he wasn't sure if he was ready for a relationship or even if we were a good match. He said that on one hand he had fallen out of love, and that on the other hand that it was "just not our time yet." He also said that some of his doctors along the way had said that I might have been making his illness worse. To make things more confusing, we talked last week and he said we were just never a good match, that if it hadn't been Lyme it would have been something else to tear us apart. He also said that he could never trust me again since I broke up with him. He mentioned that he is now feeling better but it may not be because of the medicine. Is he just associating the medicine working to me not being in his life? I don't know what to make of this.

My friends all want me to move on. But did I walk away from the love of my life? Can someone just fall out of love that easily with someone who supported them through every step of their illness? I'm so surprised that within the last month his idea of what we had together has changed so much. I'm even more frustrated because many of his friends didn't stand by his side throughout the illness. Now suddenly they are all back and he has given them a second chance. I had thought that we would break up and then when he felt better and started healing and after working on his own emotions we would find a way to work it out, and now it seems like that isn't happening. Do you think that he will give me a second chance or should I just try to forget it all and give up hope? I'm not sure if this is common for anyone who goes through such an extreme case of Lyme disease, but whatever advice you can give would be helpful.

– Loved, lost, and Lymed, South Shore


A: You can't beat yourself up for being honest with him, LLAL. You were by his side during a very long year of hospital visits. You confessed that you weren't sure about your future with him -- because that was the truth. There's no need to feel guilty or second guess how this all went down. He asked you a question and you gave him a fair answer. He felt abandoned, but so did you.

Bryan has told you that you aren't a good match and that this relationship probably would have ended no matter what. For now, that's all you need to know.

I can't tell you why he fell out of love with you or why he's more comfortable being on his own right now. Perhaps he's distancing himself from you and returning to his old friends because he wants to forget about the illness. Or maybe he needs to be this selfish in order to rebuild his life.

All I know is that he can't give you what you need and that he's letting you walk away. He isn't including you in his healing process. He doesn't want to work it out. I'm with your friends on this one. The whys don't matter right now. You told him that you want him back and he said no. There's no point in chasing him.

It's time to think about who can give you support and make you happy.

Readers? Is it possible that after more time he'll come back to her? Is this about her or the illness? Was it wrong of her to admit she was unsure about their future? If you've had experiences coping with illness as a couple, can you talk about that? Help.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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