Sex and Sickness Part 2
*Wait! Did you read Part 1? Please do so, otherwise this post will seem a bit confusing.
Okay, where were we? Yes, we were making out. Myself and Mia, that is. Or had I gotten to that part yet? All right, let’s back it up for a minute. When Mia first arrived there was hugging and hand holding, but soon she was little spoon to my big spoon.
This was about six months ago when I was only able to whisper with the majority of my communication achieved by tracing words on someone’s hand, or more laboriously, using an alphabet spelling system which would require an entirely separate blog post just to explain. I’ll spare you.
Somehow Mia and I were able to communicate our affection for one another, proving that love is a language that transcends the need for translation. Mia eventually confessed that she expected me to be debilitated but not to be so alert and engaging. It was good to hear. It made me happy to know that with everything MECFS has taken from me, it couldn’t take my personality.
Each time Mia left my room she would return a short while later and say she wanted to stay in my sheltered world indefinitely. Other visitors have expressed similar feelings, saying it was actually comforting to be in what Mia called my “cave.” But to me the cave was not comforting. It was, and still is, a cell in which my body has stagnated but time has continued on. And that is absolutely terrifying.
Mia and I spent last Valentine’s Day together. I was able to use my phone to order her a bunch of goodies — candles, chocolates — while she got me a succulent and a lovely card. That night she slipped into bed with me and we kissed like our first time back in 9th grade outside the girls’ locker room. I quickly found that the chemical release triggered by her affection made me feel better. Like I had with Sasha, for a short time, I felt free of the pain and sickness, of the trauma tainting the last decade of my life.
Before going to bed Mia came into my room to say goodnight. We made out and it was then that I finally realized something was undoubtedly different about her body. Her chest was noticeably larger than it was in high school. Eventually she pulled down her top and revealed her breasts which appeared to be augmented and had piercings, although the latter I had already seen in photos she sent me.
Now, this is probably a good time to point out how bizarre it was to be so incredibly sick and still have a sex life, albeit stunted. Instinctively I expected to be able to speak and chew food before I could kiss or have my sex drive return. This anomaly brought a flood of emotions and even more questions to my mind. Could I catch another virus from Mia, or could she get MECFS from me? Would the exertion of intimacy be too much to recover from? And if it wasn’t, would the pleasure of intimacy be worth the physical repercussions?
I started to feel guilty, remorse for indulging in a bit of pleasure that ultimately proved so taxing and probably detrimental to my recovery (at least in the short-term). It felt like I was using energy that could otherwise go to sitting up or maybe even getting out of bed, but this was flawed thinking. Even if I had saved all my energy I still would not have been able to do sit up or get out of bed, there were just too many forces working against me like an extremely impaired circulatory system or unrelenting muscle weakness. So I did my best to ignore irrational questions like was it wrong of me to kiss Mia? Or should I not have spent so much energy trying to nurture a relationship with Sasha? At the time these relationships were the only things I could use my energy for that brought me any joy. It was fettered joy, but joy nonetheless.
I’ve always been one to give things or people I’m interested in all of my attention. I become obsessed and addicted very easily whether it’s exercise or with a pretty girl. In this way I suppose I’m lucky I’ve never been keen on drugs or alcohol. And while I’ve never stood outside a girl’s house at three in the morning in the pouring rain, I have devoted far too much time and energy to women that do not reciprocate, a pattern that has continued into my sick years.
And while I know my health should come before any other person, it is difficult to keep in perspective. The emotional and physical exhaustion of trying to carry on a relationship has been worth it, because if nothing else, it provided a distraction from my ailing body. And ultimately I remembered to trust my body. If I was able to sit-up, or even try to, I would. In the meantime these relationships were healing, even if they didn’t feel like it at the time.
When Mia left it was very emotional for both of us. We traded articles of clothing — she took my boxers and I kept her sweatshirt — then she was gone. The next day she sent me this text message:
I hate that there will be no one like you. I mean maybe if I am lucky, but I’m not a full optimist. I’m scared and pissed about it. I don’t want to be close with anyone at this point but you. But I’m trying to be cautious. It’s a relationship I’ve never had before so forgive me if I’m not giving you needed space. You came into my life for a reason. I’m trying to figure out why because at this point I feel it’s a tease. I don’t think you feel far off on that. Correct me if I am wrong. I don’t know what to do about it. I’m not asking for answers I am just talking so don’t try to make sense. Thank you for your love. I realize this is a lot. I’d squeeze you hard if I was there.
After that things began to really get emotional. I started conjuring up farfetched plans to fly her to the nearest airport (two hours away) and have some family member pick her up so we could be together for a few hours before she had to return home for work. I was desperate and starving for affection and she was dealing with intense emotional issues alluded to in her text messages. But these imperfections by no means diminished the love we had for each other.
Still, the enormity of the emotions between us were not only palpable from hundreds of miles away, they were enough to crush anyone, especially a sick person. Our relationship became strained when she didn’t come back to visit. She still hasn’t and as time has gone by we have only become more distant, recently even estranged.
A few weeks ago, after we had not talked for awhile, Mia randomly sent me the following text message:
Hey you. I’m sorry if I’m not being supportive or available or however you want to put it. I’m trying to focus on myself and I’m trying to clean up my cave. Just know I care about you deeply and want you to be happy.
I just can’t give you what you were asking for.
Our estrangement has introduced many questions about my situation. As my health continues to improve I often wonder what kind of relationship, if any, is realistic. Just as I imagine Sasha and Mia have had to weigh what is realistic in their own right, walking a blurred line between friendly affection and romantic affection that often seems impossible. I imagine the fact that I’m sick complicates the situation for them. I know it seems complicated to me. But how do you tell a sick guy “I’m just not into you,” especially after your actions have shown otherwise? I suppose they could say “it’s not you it’s me,” but let’s be real: it’s definitely me and I’m too intelligent for clichés.
But it’s not like I’m hitting on them at a bar. These are old friends or ex-girlfriends I’ve known for years, and still I’m not trying to seduce them. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m usually very hesitant to even let them see me so vulnerable and I rarely initiate any intimacy. They usually make the first move, and once they do, well that’s a different story. From then on I’m an equal, if not more aggressive participant. It usually starts very innocuously — she will sit next to me, grab my hand, and we’ll talk. Then her hand will end up on my arm, then my chest, then she’ll ask to give me a hug, and within an hour she’ll be in bed next to me. And that’s when the gloves come off. I can’t be expected to keep my distance with an attractive woman in my bed, especially one I’ve been intimate with before. But still I wonder what forces brought us to that point. For me it’s loneliness and a starvation of intimacy. For her, I imagine it’s any combination of things which must include feeling sympathy for me. This became clear when one female visitor said, within a few minutes of arriving, “I just want to lay down and hold you.”
I’m sure it’s genuine attraction and the affection is real, but what’s the impetus behind such advances?
Is sympathy the impetus for the affection I receive from women? If it is, then my illness most certainly is the impetus them abandoning me so quickly. I doubt that sympathy is the only impetus behind the unorthodox relationships I’ve been having with women while I’ve been sick, but even if it is, so what? Everybody needs love.
*Before I move on from the topic, believe it or not, there is more to tell. But perhaps I’ve exhausted the topic? I’ll leave it up to you. If you want more leave a comment below, something to the tune of “Hey! Where’s part 3?,” if not, I’ll move on to something more lively like my 21st birthday.
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