A reader hasn’t told her online boyfriend that she has RA and uses a wheelchair
Written on March 10, 2013 by Ms. Meniscus
Please advise asap as I don’t know what to do. I met a man online about six months ago and we just connected like we were soulmates and have been writing each other and talking on the phone. We haven’t met because I’m in Pennsylvania and he’s in Oregon but now he’s making a trip here in April and I don’t know what to do because I never told him that I had juvenile arthritis when I was a kid and I’m in a wheelchair. I’m so upset. I’m afraid if I tell him that I’ll lose him.
*Henceforth Ms. Meniscus, who has recently passed the advice baton, shall be referred to as Madame Meniscus
Oh my dear Kerry … a dilemma indeed, one which Madame Meniscus has no intention of condoning. She sees you sailing along and from the sound of it, not so peacefully under the night sky, yet you’ve captured Madame’s sympathy, truly you have. And why is that? Well, shall we say that Madame Meniscus can certainly understand how it all started. There you were at your computer, enjoying the freedom to be yourself in a way that could not otherwise be possible. My dear you have company, because millions of such relationships are cozy and thriving in the invisible world of cables and pixels.
But it’s a double charge, isn’t it, with the potential for crossed wires? Here you are connecting with Mr. Marvelous while a part of you that wonders how far this cord can be strained while an important detail goes missing. Oh that we were mere pixels flowing through space and our form didn’t matter. But we’re earthly beings and form does, in fact, matter. Who does not withhold information until a certain degree of trust has been met? So there’s no need for panic. Madame isn’t saying that come April your soul-mate shall flee.
Wheelchair or not, there is going to be some nervousness or anticipation before any first-time meeting; am I too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too yellow, too green? The first face-to-face meeting means that both parties must close the gap between the imagined person and the actual one.
But you haven’t presented your actual “self” thus far. Have you?
You have not told him about your RA quite understandably because no one wants to be defined by an illness or a condition. We want to be valued for our attributes, our character, our personality, by the very essence of who we are. But we also value integrity in a relationship. Hence, Madame Meniscus will come right out with it. You must tell him.
Are any of us inside or out – perfect specimens? Unfortunately not, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Isn’t that what we teach little children?
And it’s the appreciation, or shall I say understanding of another that leads us to appraise someone as a potential soul-mate. Madame Meniscus believes it’s lovely that you have established this connection. It leads her to believe that you’ve covered some of the big stuff: various philosophies held or not held, what makes each of you happy…whether you prefer field greens over romaine, cheddar over brie, or, heaven forbid, junk food.
The next time you write or talk, ask him about difficult challenges that he has faced and let that be the opening to your own story. Honesty is implicit in any relationship and this is a test that must come preferably sooner than later. If he drops you like a hot potato when he learns you are in a wheelchair then you must ask yourself: was he worthy of me to begin with? Madame Meniscus will answer for you: absolutely not.
Before you go Madame would like you to consider the following, and please note that she is indulging in a little speculation of her own with no offense intended toward your gentleman. Supposing you meet and you can’t get over the fact that he smells like a skunk (through no fault of his own) or keeps fifteen pet rats (a choice of his own)? The point is that you don’t know everything there is to know about him, and you may not adore everything either.
Madame Meniscus wishes you good luck and sends you two-dozen cables of optimism.
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