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Once people know you are sick, no matter how healthy you are at the time, they always look at you different. You now officially have baggage. If they care about you, they worry about you. (Yet, if they didn’t care about me or ask how I was, I would probably be upset and feel neglected). People never ask the most average question “how are you?” the same again. The truth is they really don’t want to know the answer. They stare at you with their head tilted to one side; eyes squinted with a tint of care or concern and a look in their eyes that cuts deep into the soul of the receiver. It is the face of pure sympathy, and it’s not a pretty sight. Most people do not even know they do it, but they do it all the time. I hate answering the questions. I hate being the one people worry about. Once I choose to let you in and tell you the truth, you know, and there is no turning back. You can’t erase it or take it away. The hardest thing about all of this is once you know, you know. So when I meet someone new, male or female and I am “just like them”, it is as intoxicating as the most addictive drug. It is worse when it is a man, because then not only am I normal in their eyes, but I am actually wanted or desired, and not the damaged goods I see myself as. I can be pretty or dare I even say beautiful. They don’t see the pills I just took, or the bruises I am hiding. I can smile and they don’t see the pain I am in, so they help me forget. It is in that forgetting or escaping that is the greatest gift some of these people I have met have given me, and they never knew it. They don’t see how ugly my body feels, because “I don’t look sick”. The problem is, there are times when I actually start to like the person, and I choose to tell them more about myself. Sooner or later my illness will come up, and as quickly as the heated rush of desire came over me, it vanishes, as if the magic spell is gone. Now they know, and they know too much. It loses its romance, and they lose me, since that was the attraction. Now, since they know, I can’t use them to escape.