There comes a time in every cancer survivor’s life (and perhaps even during a cancer patient’s life – though admittedly they probably have more important things on their minds), if they happen to be single or not married, when a decision is made to start dating.
Dating is hard enough, with pressures of personalities, interests, social circles, and everything else just to come to a conclusion if there is going to be any chemistry between the two, or possibly any future. As if things were not hard enough, imagine being in the position of having to tell someone you are interested in, that you had cancer.
We often make light of just how fast a relationship develops into the physical aspect, and of course the emotional aspect, but just when is the right time to tell someone you had cancer? Or in many cases, even more serious issues.
Dating certainly has changed over the decades since I was last “single”. My two marriages were back to back. There was no “Match.com” and I detested blind dates. For me it was simple, I would get up the courage to ask someone out who I was already familiar with. Of course, my first marriage, I was diagnosed with my cancer before we got married, so ex #1 had to deal with the cancer issue directly. But as my first marriage ended, I began dating ex #2, who had already known that I had a cancer history, so there was no need to discuss it. She had known me long enough to know that the only thing that would be an issue from my cancer, was that chemo had left me infertile, unable to bear biological children.
But unlike past relationships that had ended, I was in no hurry to develop any new relationship. If I am being honest, I have no intentions of ever getting married again after the way my second marriage is ending. This is unusual for me, because historically, it has always been my nature to start dating right away, and developing a serious relationship. I had gone further with ex #2 than anyone in my life with feelings, development of family, and support during the toughest of times. But the acts of betrayal that we both perceive in the failure of our marriage have hardened my heart from every wanting to unite in marriage with anyone ever again. If I was ever to get serious with someone ever again, I will only allow our relationship to be simple enough, that if it ends, the collateral damage is reduced to near minimal.
So here I am, single, not necessarily looking to date, just looking to build my life socially which had been destroyed through the dissolution of my marriage. To rebuild my friendships, and build new ones, it would mean that I would once again, have to explain my story, my health story in particular. As you can read anywhere on “Paul’s Heart”, it is quite complicated, and can be quite demanding. To accept me into a life, is not an easy decision. For those who only want to see “positive” messages from me, I can do that. But the reality is, there unfortunately is going to be a lot of “negative” as well. But it is my hope that there is hope taken from the “negative” messages.
Dating was going to be another story, now that I felt I was ready to try again. In all the romantic movies, relationships grow smoothly and according to scripts. And they all have scenes of each other staring into each others eyes, mushy and silly conversations over dinner. But when do you drop a bomb on a perspective date, “I had cancer. But not only that, the treatments I went through are slowly destroying my body. I have had heart surgery, have lung issues, spine issues, muscle issues, immunity issues, GI issues, oh, and yes, emotionally I have an issue with surviving all of them.” Reading that last sentence, you would agree, I am quite a catch. But not in a good way.
The complicated thing is though, I do not have to tell anyone this. If you look at me, and without knowing anything about me, no one would ever know the train wreck that is my body.
I can date, and date, and date, and no one would ever have to know. Of course, if things progressed, I would certainly have a lot of explaining to do. I have two six inch scars on my chest and abdomen, clear evidence that I had been through something traumatic. And needless to say, once my shirt was removed, the conversation would ensue, and that would be it for the mood, and probably any future because I had not brought it up sooner.
Just as life often goes, things often happen to you when you least expect them to, a job, a house, friends, or even someone special. You are always going to be your most comfortable, in your own environment, and amongst the people that you already know. And they will know you well enough.
But for the first time in my life, being truly single, and with no intentions of ever wanting to be married again, I met someone who at least has opened my heart again. Neither of us have any intention of getting married ever again, and that is actually a good thing. Because it is going to allow us to be who we are, without having to change or concede who we are. And this is going to be a new beginning… again.
To be continued… next post.