This past weekend, I went to a party in the East Village for friends of mine who are getting married next month in Baltimore. I had noticed a nice looking chap when I arrived, and although I am officially on strike, I'm still up for some flirtatious negotiations here and there when the occasion presents itself. And, since I was feeling a little spunky and all together good that day, when he went to refill his glass with sangria, I took the opportunity to head in that direction as well, and what do you know, we ended up chatting.
He seemed nice and normal enough, and things seemed to be going rather well, though I was having to carry most of the conversation. (I feel that this happens a lot, and I have to wonder if the art of conversation has truly become lost or if I'm just not talking to any of the right people). We spoke for a good little while, mostly about his job and the usual New Yorker banter: how long have you lived here, where do you live, oh really? What street? I know a (fill in the blank) up there, etc. No red flags had been raised, but as he continued to explain the nuances of his job, I noticed some funny thoughts going on in my head. Thoughts that, before my diagnosis, would not have occurred to me, such as: is this someone I would want around me when I feel like utter crap? Is this someone who would be willing to be around me even when I feel like utter crap, and would he be supportive or utterly crappy himself? I wonder if he would think I am less attractive if he knew I had a freaky chronic illness? Would he run for the hills or be ok with it? Would he even understand what it means for me, and could I imagine myself wanting to tell him at some imaginary point in the future? Hmmmm.
Now, these thoughts can be troublesome for a variety of reasons. For starters, how could I possibly know the answers to any of these questions after talking to someone for 20 minutes? And, TALK about getting ahead of myself and projecting waaaayyyy into the future. I wasn't even sure if I was interested in this person yet, so what the hell would it matter how he would react to my RA, if I ever told him?
On the other hand, let's face it, having a chronic illness changes the way you evaluate people and relationships and provides a pretty good litmus test for determining who you want to have in your life. After my diagnosis, it became clear to me that some of the relationships I had were not ones that I wanted to keep anymore, or keep in the same way. It's just true. And, though it can be difficult and lonely going through this illness by myself, my diagnosis also made it crystal clear to me that my Ex would never ever have been able to support me in the way I would need to be supported, and that I was in fact much better on my own than with him.
So now, what should be a pretty lighthearted and easy conversation suddenly feels immensely complicated and laden with risk. When you don't have a lot of energy, you have to be careful how you choose to spend it. What are you willing to take a gamble on? With RA, everything costs you more than it did before, including chatting up a guy you just met.
Ho hum. All of this is a perfect example of why I just don't feel so superhot on the idea of starting to date again. Soon after these thoughts began to swarm around in my brain like vultures anticipating a kill, he stepped away to go to the bathroom, and when he came back, didn't approach me again (I can't imagine why). It felt a bit disappointing, to be honest, but also removed a layer of worry I'm not sure I want to face yet.
How do other people feel about this? Am I a total headcase that makes Bridget Jones appear reasonable (I realize this is a possiblity), or are other people also having this internal dialogue every time they meet someone new?