Fear of being unattractive and living with multiple sclerosis

Flamingo

Physical attraction. Women never think we have enough of it. For a woman with MS, this fear is even worse. We know, at times, our body is deformed; weakness traps us. We will fall. Being uncomfortable in our own skin makes relationships extremely difficult.

How can we cross the line of intimacy? How can we allow a man to see us, when we have so much to hide?

A chronic illness may always be an unseen, unwelcome third partner in a relationship. Until we admit, first to ourselves, then to the other, how it feels. Not only are there fears about physical limitation or temporary spasticity, but also the fear of being unable. I fear being unable to remember or to follow a daily system sometimes. If I usually feed the dogs first, why would I one morning change my sequence? Feeding them after I shower instead of before is a break in routine and can be uncomfortable to all. Why did I get mixed up?

I am not a bad person when unfocused, just a distracted person. This happens to anyone, but I fear it is my MS taking a firmer grip. I fear my cognitive abilities have become impaired and then I judge myself. Because I feel I can’t be depended on, I describe myself as unworthy.

Even now, I question my right to be in a relationship.

Rainier Maria Rilke’s advice on relationships is “a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude.” We confront our fears, so often hidden to the outside world, in the solitude that also grants us the freedom to find our wholeness. In marriage, we give each other the space to travel the twists and turns of our own path. We are guardians of the journey within.

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