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.)