Many of you are dealing with liver disease as a single person. I was there once, aging all alone with liver disease, and understand the impact it can have on your mental and emotional health. I wasn’t single by choice. Rather, my liver disease led to a rift in my marriage, and a divorce. It was a low spot for me and I wasn’t sure that I could make it through. I learned that the resources that were the most important to me were hard won, but possible to find.

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Since my mind was in a hepatic encephalopathy haze, it was hard for me to consider dating. My friends were great to hang out with, but I always felt like the 5th wheel. Some of that may have been my own mindset, however, when everyone had a partner, it was difficult. A lot of friends wanted to “set me up.” After a painful divorce, I feel like part of my desire to find a partner was wanting to help me feel desirable again. But, I was sick. 

I was also on a liver loving diet and didn’t want my dates to be someone offering to wine and dine me. Wine was a deal killer for me personally for many reasons. I wanted a fun, thoughtful, and sober date. I would rather be alone than with someone who had to drink to feel at home with me.

It is possible to be alone without feeling lonely. One of the most important things that I did was invest in myself. By making a list and checking off the boxes of my personal and social wants, I was staying in touch with my own inner life and also touching on my goals for the future. My checklist was specific. 

Doing a Needs Assessment

Finding out exactly what I needed wasn’t easy. It took some deep soul searching. I had always read, and taught classes on a lot of books. At this new stage of life, I retook my personality and values and strength finder tests. Even though I had done all of those, now that I was all alone and living with liver disease, it was time to reevaluate. What would my happily ever after look like now?

The deepest look was at myself and realizing that even though my body was sick – very very sick – I was still alive and deserved to have joy, acceptance, excitement, and contentment with others. 

That also included letting myself feel like I deserved to have a loving partner who would not only accept me with all my physical ailments, but stand by me through my healing process. 

One Step at a Time

This all came in stages. I had to deal with all of my grief. My health, my marriage, and my financial losses were fresh. During each stage there were specific steps to move me further along the path.

If you’ve followed me, you’ve probably read about my dating scene. You may have also read about my medical bills and how my daughter and grandkids became my caregivers.

Our identity is wrapped around all of those things. Since childhood, we dream of how life will be. There are losses and we deal with them. The pain helps us grow. But unless you have been alone and living with a liver diagnosis, you have no idea how much our identity is stolen from us. 

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This entry was originally posted on I help C on February 4, 2023, and is reprinted with permission.