Long time lurker, first time writer here. I’m a college boy dating a fellow student that we’ll call Jackie. I’ve dated only a few times in the past, mostly out of shyness, but never consistently until I met her. We’ve been going out for a bit more than a year now, and I’ve never been happier. She’s the kindest, smartest, most caring person I know, and I love every moment we spend together. But a few years ago, before I met her, Jackie was diagnosed with lupus, an incurable disease that has a number of awful, sometimes visible side-effects including hair loss, facial rashes, mood swings, and joint pain. Most of the noticeable side-effects have lessened in severity with a combination of time and medication, but they’re still there, and will always be a part of her life. Add the fact that one of her old medications made her gain some weight that she’s still working on losing, and it understandably left Jackie with very low self-esteem.
We’re both in the same major and she does consistently better than most of the students, including myself, in every class we share, but she tells me that she’s not that smart, or that she’s just a good guesser and didn’t really deserve the good grades she’s earned. Whenever we start to get intimate, she always apologizes profusely for her inflexibility and stretch marks, things that I honestly couldn’t give a flying fuck about when she shoves me onto my bed with that irresistible, wicked smirk and starts riding me like a Harley. And when I tell her as much, she says that I don’t have to pretend not to notice them to make her feel better, but thanks me for trying anyway. Recently she told me that I’m too good for her, that she doesn’t deserve me, and that she’s just waiting for the day I’ll get tired of her problems and leave her. I have no idea how I stopped myself from crying when I first heard that, and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even sniffle by the fourth time Jackie said it.
I will never, ever claim to know what this horrible disease has put her through, but I have dealt with my own self-esteem issues before, so I have no delusions that I can just “fix” her in a week with the power of love and compliments. But Jackie isn’t broken, she isn’t a failure, she isn’t a problem, and even if she did lose her hair again, I would still think she’s just as beautiful as she is today. I guess what I’d like is some way to help let Jackie see herself the way I see her. Not to “cure” her of her low self-esteem, but just to let her know that I love her, and that I think she’s a charming, sexy, intelligent, and just overall brilliant woman, no matter what her stupid immune system has to say about it.
Livin’ La Vida Lupus