Having IBD in a relationship is always a challenge, and until now an unsuccessful one for me personally. I was a "late bloomer" which I always blamed on my dealing with my IBD. I was deformed by steroids during my teenage years and was a good forty pounds overweight for my height, as well as scarred by unsightly stretch marks. I had huge (DD) boobs, which most girls would have used to their advantage, but mine were a source of discomfort and embarrassment. I knew the rest of me wasn't sexy, and it made me feel like my huge boobs were a cruel joke. After high school, at the age of 17, I had a breast reduction. I rarely regret the decision- size wise I'm very content with my new C-cups, but I do wish I had less scarring and could feel more confident without my top on. I can't help but feel like there's a disconnect between my body and my breasts, which I sometimes jokingly refer to as "frankentits."
On the cusp on my 18th birthday I was beginning my first semester of college at a quirky liberal arts school. The student body was incredibly over-sexed, and also incredibly gay which was awesome being that I'm a fag hag, but miserable in terms of discovering myself sexually and finally getting laid. I spent most of my college years growing increasingly bitter, and it was also during this time (sophomore year specifically) that I began to develop severe anxiety problems. This further hindered me from developing emotionally and sexually- I was 21 before I finally discovered a look for myself that made me feel confident and roped someone into sleeping with me on spring break. I was 22 before I had my first real relationship (one I look back on mostly with shame and regret). My first boyfriend was someone I was friends with at first, and when we finally connected romantically I was on the cusp of a moderate relapse. On the second occasion that I saw this boyfriend after we had hooked up for the first time it was at a party as his place, and I crapped my pants and had to leave (I was able to keep this discreet thankfully). At any rate, my disease was active through pretty much all of our year and a half relationship, and at first I was so grateful to have someone that I thought was supportive to see me through. But the truth is this guy really wasn't supportive. He tried at first, but he was an overactive little kid at heart and really had no qualms making me feel guilty about my inability to keep up with him physically. He would constantly volunteer me for physical activity I wasn't up to, like playing basketball or going for a long bike ride, despite my protests that I wasn't up for it. He would accuse me of being lazy and milking my illness. He also developed a habit of pushing my hot buttons for the sole purpose of instigating me and this would further aggravate my stomach. I've given a lot of thought to what my headspace was during this first relationship, and my mistake was thinking that he was a catch because he had a girlfriend who shat herself and didn't run away screaming. The truth of the matter is, there's a lot more to loving someone with an illness than just not being grossed out by them. It takes a lot of patience, and I can't begin to pretend it's easy for the other person, but there have been some real dick moves I've encountered over the years, not just from this particular ex but from peers and friends as well. As a kid people would say things to me like "wow, it sucks to be you" and "you were more fun before you were sick" and to this day I have a huge chip on my shoulder from it. But back then I knew these people were also kids, and kids are assholes and I could get past it. But adults are still assholes I've come to learn, and I've got some real anger issues when it comes to being left out of things because my IBD limits me. Long story short, had I ever dated before I never would have stayed with this person for more than a few weeks. But desperation, insecurity, and and old fashioned Catholic sense of "gotta make it work" kept me where I was and, despite trying to be friends afterwards, I could stab this guy in the throat to this day if given the chance.
After that relationship I was really, really happy to be single and experienced a personal renaissance. I moved into my own place for the first time, and my health finally started to improve (my uncle later joked that the ex was so annoying it was merely his presence that made me so sick to my stomach) and I began dating casually and that was fine enough. It was tricky because I wasn't drinking and that made getting out and meeting people really scary for me. I'm not too keen on mingling with strangers to begin with, and am admittedly a bit agoraphobic. I've been able to drink alcohol at various points over the years, but partying really came to standstill after college. I had a few embarrassing IBD dating moments, like the time I farted not realizing it was going to smell so bad when I was on a date. The guy took it in stride and we got a few good laughs out of it, but we only saw each other once more and that was the end of that. After a while I started to get chummy with a guy in my neighborhood, and we had what turned out to be a really stressful fling. There was a lot going on with me at this time, as I had stopped taking Celexa (under the supervision of my doctor) and was using the NuvaRing for birth control- two things that made me completely and utterly batshit crazy. I was miserable at my job and having a "quarter life crisis" (I'm so sick of that phrase) and I had begun seeing a new gastroenterologist, who turned out to be just terrible. My IBD didn't come up too much while I was seeing this guy, but he did dump me the night before he was supposed to drive me home from a colonoscopy (which he still did, thankfully). I can't say we've stayed friendly, but there's not the same kind of hate that cultivated for the first ex.
I'm omitting a few minor ex-boyfriends here, and a long list of unrequited "loves" (most of whom turned out to be gay) but these few above are the real fails worth mentioning. Up next, the story of the win.