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Hi friends,

After deluging Hiya's holiday thread with various thoughts aimed mostly at her situation, I figured I better start a new thread to pose questions of my own before I overtook the entire thread, lol, please don't be mad. For those of you who haven't seen my previous posts, I've been suffering from severe chronic facial pain for over two years which started immediately after I had my wisdom teeth removed. I was in the middle of a wonderful, very serious relationship and had one year of college to finish, and despite the toll which the pain, all the medical appointments and treatments, the medications, and especially their side effects took on my energy level and overall health, I managed to juggle my BF and school, my two main priorities, successfully for the remainder of college and for the next year while I worked for myself and applied to graduate programs. Then last spring, I realized I wasn't getting any better physically, which was extremely disheartening for both of us, my BF was uncertain and unhappy about his lack of direction, the uncertainty of out future plans, heartbroken that he couldn't ease my pain, and his family was obnoxious, demanding, and manipulative just like always. I was fairly happy in the relationship but could tell it probably wasn't ultimately meant to be, which absolutely broke my heart.

As I explained on another recent thread ([url][/url], Iím very strongly drawn to a variety of men at any given time. And while my goal as I mature is not to be dishonest or extraneously hurtful to anyone I date should I indulge these desires, the idea of forever giving up all of the other sweet, smart, and sexy men out there makes me miserable. Settling down for good, even with a man as wonderful as Patrick who was thrilled to be monogamous, was appealing in the sense that I loved him and felt safe, protected, and accepted sleeping in his arms almost every night since we met but also very depressing to contemplate never exploring the chemistry I felt with other men before and while I met him, including (to name just a few) my drop dead gorgeous primarily platonic male best friend, his little brother who looked exactly the same and with whom the mutual chemistry was much more palpably intense, and even Patrickís best friend, who I found sexy because he was brash, outspoken, and liked to spar with me verbally and physically while never missing an opportunity to get just a little closer to me than he should have.

Anyway, all in all I am doing pretty well moving on and enjoying being single except for one thing: because over the last month or two, Iíve been feeling much too sick and down on myself to do even the littlest things, much less date, Iíd been ignoring a lot of promising dating prospects and feel totally out of the whole dating scene. Now that Iím feeling a bit better, even though Iím usually a very happy homebody, Iím itching to get out of the house and do something sociable, so I started writing some of the guys I was most interested in and who had been the most patient about me being even flakier than usual back, and already Iím feeling almost giddy from the kind and positive response Iíve gotten. It really is amazing how well people will respond if you reach out to them with an optimistic outlook. Yet the point of going through such a tough time was to see if I could live with the pain and have any quality of life without needing a lot of doctors and medications, and I am discouraged that I failed that little experiment miserably. Iím starting to doubt (though I try never to think this far ahead) whether Iíll ever again be able to date like a normal person, like you guys, to respond to messages promptly because Iím rarely feeling sick and to make plans freely without worrying that I wonít feel well enough to do anything that night. I just hate that these medical problems are probably going to continue to overshadow and infringe upon yet another aspect of my life that is important to me and makes me happy, which is really frustrating and upsetting. Who is going to want anything to do with someone with such serious pain issues and all the medical burdens that come with that when everyone else in their early twenties is completely healthy and carefree? Itís especially hard for me to be optimistic on that front because if someone who loved me as much as Patrick couldnít handle sticking by me like this, how can I trust or expect anyone else to? And that makes me want to keep it all private, which I know canít really work, though the very issue of when and how to disclose something like my pain problem is way too overwhelming and discouraging to even think much about now, to be honest.

Iím trying not to give up totally thoughÖyes, my pain heavily contributed to my losing Patrick, but his family would probably have ensured that happened at some point anyway and yes, itís been awfully painful and taxing on my body, but at least my life isnít in danger or anything, and yes, itís definitely put my educational and career plans on hold, but itís also kept me from rushing into a graduate program I wasnít sure about just because everyone, including me, expected me to go charging ahead into some superstar career when in actuality I desperately needed a break from 16 years of an incredibly rigorous education. I guess what Iím getting at is that while you canít control what happens to you in some aspects of life, you DO have the power to change the way you think about and focus on your life. Most of the time I see my pain condition as a horrible, miserable condition that has taken away almost everything that I treasured and wanted. But as diehard an atheist as I am, Iíve found that by not accepting that anything is set in stone and completely outside my power to willfully alter, Iím trying hard to change that thought pattern and instead see aspects of my condition as blessings in disguise, which so far has made a considerable difference in how I view my future prospects. Iím blabbing on and on about this because the more I think about it, the more I see the similarities between this situation and the issues facing posters like Lisa and NinióI guess maybe I should consider taking some of the advice Iíve written on those threads, right? :) Thanks everyone.

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