When I was 13 I experienced my first crush. He was 16, had a girlfriend and drove a sports car. He considered me a pseudo kid sister-sidekick. Crush Guy was out of my league but hey, I had my standards and wasn’t inspired by the gawky guys my age. He broke my heart but I settled for being his friend.
In college I met my first serious boyfriend. He was a musician and, uh, sorta unavailable as he was in the seminary studying to be a priest. I apparently changed his mind about the priesthood and the years we were together were good. Very good. But eventually First Serious Boyfriend decided to return to the seminary. I was heartbroken. Eventually I made peace with myself about all of that. I was young and had room in my heart for love.
Fast forward past Nice Guys I Dated But Are Not In In This Story, to when I met The Husband at a recording studio. I was the voice talent and he was the guy who wrote music for commercials. We dated five years and were married for eight. We also had a son that turned out pretty nice, thankyouverymuch. Matthew grew up infused with his father’s good looks and his mother’s sweet disposition. Anyway, for many reasons I don’t care to write about, The Husband and I divorced. Yet after all these years, The Now-Ex Husband and his new family remain an integral part of my family, and my heart.
After the divorce I took a two-year sabbatical from romance. I changed jobs and had to travel a lot so between raising a child, working my way up the corporate ladder and mending a broken heart, I just wasn’t looking. Then Thaw Out Guy came along. This kind, romantic, handsome, intelligent and fun-loving guy managed to defrost my frozen heart during a short-lived fling. Did I mention he was my former boss? oops. He was transferred out of state and since I was thawed out, it was time to move on.
There were years when I dated and years when I did not. Most of the time, I was mother, manager and musician. Then I found out I had lupus. My heart was broken but for different reasons.
When I was diagnosed with systemic lupus in 1992, I felt like damaged goods. Why would anybody be interested in loving me now that I’m chronically sick? I didn’t resemble my former self. Steroids made me gain weight. My face was swollen. My hair was falling out. I had cankles. I didn’t think there was a man on this planet that could see past my appearance and truly love the person trapped inside this body.
I’ve dated several men since the diagnosis. I had a misguided experience with one that was so painful I still can’t talk about it. There’s one person that I see on a semi-regular basis and that’s nice. Lately, I’ve been more focused on my health than my heart and that’s probably for the best. I used to think there was time and opportunity out there for the kind of love I hoped to find. Having lupus changed my expectations about that. The losses I’ve experienced have put me on guard. So I do the best I can. My heart has space for the short list of trusted family and friends. I don’t know if there’s any more room in a heart that’s been broken as much as mine. Time will tell.