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  • Foto van schrijverAndjenadebie Autar

What is love, love , love? Love is all we need!

Today is Sunday February 14, 2021 and it is Valentine's Day!

Valentine is always a special day for me. I love love. Love comes in different forms. Think of a partner, a good friend, but also the unconditional love of (grand) parents and family members.

I've been single for about six years now. Being single at the moment is entirely my choice. Although it has not always been my choice to be single, I have also had the need for affection, warmth and love at times and times. Lupus has also played a big role in my love life. Not only physically, but also mentally, Lupus has left its mark on my love life. Lupus has a huge impact on my self-image, which increased my insecurity over the years.

Ever since I was a little girl, I was very, very insecure about myself. Unfortunately, I was often bullied in the past. The bullying mainly related to my appearance. I had very large glasses, braces and excess hair (also on my face). Characteristics that, according to certain people in society, do not meet a certain ideal. This made me very insecure and was often mocked.

I blossomed around my sixteenth year. I was in good shape and enjoyed working on my fitness. My appearance changed, I wore lenses, often went to the beautician for body waxes and looked fit. My hair was beautiful, long and thick and I felt much better about myself. I radiated this too. I revealed around my 18th year and you probably guessed it.

This was when I got my first boyfriend. My very first love lasted approximately one and a half to two years. The relationship ended around my 21st year of life and at the same time my body started to change. In retrospect, this was due to Lupus, but we did not know that at the time.

Lupus started with hair loss, bald patches and unprecedented weight loss. There was a time when I weighed 43 kilograms. The pink glow that I had previously had on my face had disappeared and made way for a gray appearance. This made me very insecure, so I no longer dared to date. Due to all the circumstances I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. As if the physical blow wasn't hard enough, Lupus took quite a mental blow too. Depression and insecurities increased to a great extent.

Then I was diagnosed with Lupus, which left me stuffed with medication. It started with Prednisone. As we all know Prednisone has all kinds of side effects. For example, I kept more and more moisture, which made me look pretty bloated. I went from a thin blade to a Michelin doll. The full moon face was added to that too. Yes, your face will look like a full moon. Round and convex. This didn't exactly help with my self-image. As you can understand, I did not dare to enter into relationships because of this.

My self-image has taken a huge dent, both mentally and physically, which made opening up to love very difficult. Around my 25th I finally dared to open myself up to men again. Then I had a number of relationships. The most beautiful day to celebrate love, Valentine's Day, I have also celebrated several times with a nice partner, but my relationships did not last long.

As soon as I get to know someone I always immediately mention that I have Lupus. So that the other person is aware of this. I'm not letting Lupus rule my life for me, but I'm hoping for some kind of understanding from my partner. Unfortunately during my last relationship, this understanding was lacking. That sometimes led to unpleasant situations. For example, my body really couldn't go out for another night, because I was really very tired. Fatigue caused by Lupus.

Lupus shaped me in such a way that I always have to choose for myself first. Even though I would sometimes like to do it differently. There is no room for me to continuously consider others. I have to make certain choices that others don't like sometimes, and that's why I think it's important to be open card from the start.

In addition, Lupus has also made me (mentally) stronger. On the one hand I don't have the time or space for nonsense, but on the other it has also made me more sensitive. I feel more and more intensely. I've become more sensitive to it when a man is very thoughtful, for example. Considerate in the sense of spending time, being together and really being there for me. I would like that in a relationship. For the record: I'm not looking. When love crosses my path, I am open to it. In a relationship mutual understanding and respect are very important to me. The attraction and passion must also be there in a relationship.

Despite the fact that I have had short relationships and celebrated Valentine a number of times, I feel a huge bond with Valentine's Day. I love romantic movies. Although I don't have a Valentine, I do of course celebrate this beautiful day. Besides the flowers to my dear parents, I will also surprise my brother and sister-in-law. The people I love dearly.

As for my self-image… I'm still working on that. I'm not there yet. I still have certain uncertainties. It's nice when someone can make you feel positive and safe. Someone where you can say anything you want and be who you are that is really the most important to me. Including SLE, ADHD and everything that comes with it.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

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