Chris Harrison hosts Bachelor Live with guest Ben Higgins | ABC/Todd Wawrychuck

The Parasite Was Worth It

Wait… You didn’t know I had a parasite on The Bachelor? I’ve never talked about it publicly. But I want to share the story with you because it shows how much I believe in love and relationships… even when it doesn’t work the way I plan.

About a month before filming The Bachelor, I attended my buddy Jordan’s wedding in Honduras. Jordan is an awesome guy who loves people (and cats), so before the wedding he invited about 50 of the wedding guests to go serve the villages in Honduras where he met his beautiful bride, Carol. The rural villages where Humanity and Hope United work have developing infrastructure. So parasites are part of the injustice we fight because they take away so much human potential.

I planned on waiting to start a relationship until I returned to the U.S. and went on The Bachelor, but Strongyloides had a different idea.

Strongyloides is a parasitic roundworm I likely picked up by touching contaminated soil. It first causes symptoms like swelling, itching, and bloating, but it can also lead to tissue damage, ulcers, and sepsis. (It is also one of the few parasites that can continue auto-infecting its host and has been known to live in humans up to 65 years!)

My stomach was in knots for months and there was nothing I could do about it. To complicate matters, I was dating 26 women at the time, so I wasn’t surprised that my stomach felt uncomfortable sometimes. Four months after I finishing filming I realized something was really wrong and saw a doctor.

It took several visits, but we finally found the problem and attacked it with two strong bouts of anti-parasite medicine. I lived for about seven months with a constant stomachache, so I can’t explain to you how happy I was to end this unwanted relationship. Unfortunately, like every failed relationship, this one left a scar. I still can’t drink beer or eat anything with eggs. Not being able to brunch or drink a brew with my friends isn’t something I hoped for at 28 years old.

Sadly, The Bachelor didn’t work out the way I hoped either. I started the whole process with the best of intentions — by serving some of the world’s most vulnerable and then searching for true love. However, the end results were the opposite of what I hoped for; my relationship ended, and now I can’t drink beer or go to brunch.

The million dollar question: Was it worth it?

Like the great philosopher Macklemore says, “I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave. And the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name.” What I learned is the best things in life always come at a cost, and this is true with my story, too.

It cost me a lot, but I gained even more. I know my relationships with Jordan and Carol (and their wedding guests) are better than ever. I know that things not working out on the Bachelor will lead to better things in the future. I know what it’s like to live with a constant stomachache. I know that millions of people have to live with the same pain, but no hope of fixing it. I know that I will forever be a better advocate for those who are hurting.

Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes, because the pain I went through, physical and otherwise, will always connect me with people who are also broken. This leads me to the question I have for you today:

What will you invest in that will keep living after your time on Earth is done?

By Ben Higgins

(Featured image courtesy of ABC/Todd Wawrychuck.)

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  • Reply
    November 3, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    1. That’s awful. (the parasite thing)
    2. Beer isn’t always worth it. Can you drink other kinds of alcohol?
    3. Eggs can sometimes be overrated, there’s other delights at brunch you can feast on.
    4. Kindness and caring for others. I have a legit fear of being forgotten, so I truly believe being kind and caring towards others will leave a lasting impression that people won’t forget. Also, all adding some giggles to life, always important.

  • Reply
    Connie Hajek
    November 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you for your story Ben!
    You have been through so much but I truly believe God wouldn’t bring you to it unless he can bring you through it.
    It may not be how we pictured it but in the end it will be far greater than even our minds can fathom.

    God bless,

  • Reply
    November 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I believe God takes us through things so we can truly
    empathize with who He calls us to serve. I often think about how Jesus came to earth, God Himself can say “I’ve been there, too”. While we may not experience others suffering in their complete fullness, I do believe God allows for us to experience suffering on some levels to be able to serve. I also believe loneliness is a prerequisite for leadership, so even in singleness there is much to be gained. God has His hand on your life, that’s evident!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2017 at 3:16 am

    I can actually say I know how you feel! I used to be a volunteer English teacher in a remote island in Vanuatu and just before I left to go back to Australia I went to my cousins wedding. We all sat on the ground in the dark and feasted on the pig that had been baked in the ground. Unfortunately I got an uncooked piece of the pigs stomach and swallowed a pig worm. For 9 months I had no idea it was growing in my stomach! All my friends were so discusted and some people wouldn’t even hug me in case they ‘caught it’. When I was back in Vanuatu I told my family and they just gave me big hug and said it happens to them all the time. Puts it in perspective how privalidged we are to have western medicines. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Whitney D
    November 25, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Thank you for the honesty and the encouragement. This blog post showed that you can be strong, vulnerable and courageous in the same moment. Even when things don’t go as you planned doesn’t mean that it’s time to quit or won’t be worth it.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Hi Ben,
    Thank you for your honesty. 🙂 I really enjoyed your post and am encouraged by your unconditional willingness to love and serve. Stay humble 🙂 xoxo

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