Saturday I joined a gathering of people with chronic illnesses. While not my first time doing so, the group has only met thrice – I am a novice when it comes to such situations. Historically I tend to do badly when I attempt to join a group based on one of my identities: The blind people don’t get the sick people, the sick people don’t get the blind people, and the bisexuals understand nobody and are understood by nobody. Let’s not even throw facial differences into the mix. The proposed topic of how your illness positively impacted your life journey seemed to fit my overall philosophy, so I went.
Desperation. That room was full of desperation. People were so focused on getting better that they weren’t remembering to live in the interim. From my perspective, I wasn’t the healthiest person in that room, but I was probably the happiest with my current life.
It’s not that I have some magical ability or special power that keeps me happy in the face of the complexities of illness. I think it’s that somewhere along the way, long before chronic illness was a part of my reality, I stopped totally listening to what the world was teaching. A partial education in how people “should be,” the benchmarks of success, what’s appropriate, and what you need to be happy has actually been a benefit when it comes to living a reality outside the norm.
Even I struggle with issues of success, happiness, and feeling like a valuable member of the human race. I just have distance allowing me to see that what makes me feel bad is not within myself but coming from the larger world. Knowing that makes it not just easier to dismiss, but less miserable to feel.
By the end of Saturday’s meeting, my contentment was shattered. Something about watching people dedicated to fixing themselves in order to be happy wore at me. Instead of also wishing for health, I became despondent over being single because after realizing I was probably the happiest person in the room, it dawned upon me that I was the least likely to find a life partner. Ridiculous, full of self-pity, and some would say patently untrue, but I felt it. Strongly.
Over the past few days, I have come to know this is my weak area. I might not feel broken, I may not need health to find happiness, and I feel no need to fit any traditional roles, but I am firmly and unwaveringly convinced my chances of finding a life partner are lower than the average person. Moreover, lower far too often translates into not going to happen. Friends have tried to use logic and reason, pep talks, contradicting examples, and every other method under the sun to get me to see it otherwise, but I’m stuck. Totally stuck. I’m so stuck that I’m starting to annoy even myself.
I did have one useful realization: If I think it’s most likely that I’ll partner with a man, then maybe I should hang around heterosexuals more and queer folk less. At the moment, I’m eating, breathing and dreaming bisexuality as I put together a panel workshop. Perhaps my next endeavor should be more heterosexual. Then again, of my last three crushes, two came from the bi community, so maybe the focus should be on men who actually date women. Anyone know where to find those? So far they haven’t created a guide dog command, “Find a man.”