If You’re Scared to Ruin Everyone’s Fun Because of Your Illness
For the longest time, I didn’t take care of myself. It took me a while to realize it was because I wasn’t my own priority.
So I learned to listen to my body, respect its limits and respond to its needs. I started taking breaks, saying no to excess obligations and teaching myself to be OK with that.
When I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2014, this became an even bigger priority for me as I struggled to manage painful symptoms and fatigue. But a recent situation made me realize something about my attitude toward my health. I’ve made it all about me. In a way, I’ve been selfish, distrustful and isolated.
A few months ago, my husband, Andrew, and I joined two of our good friends for a wedding. I was pretty worn out from work travel already, but I stuffed my clothes into a suitcase, dropped our dog off at our friends’ house and got back into the car.
I knew we’d be having a busy weekend with his friends, going out to eat and staying up way too late. I tend to use up a lot of my limited energy in what I refer to as “marathon social situations” to begin with, but when Andrew’s friends are involved, this seems to reach a whole ‘nother level.
After staying up late the night before, I was exhausted the day of the wedding. Between my poor sleeping habits, travel eating and shivering at the outdoor ceremony, my painful endometriosis symptoms were in full force. And I was in charge of driving back to our friend’s apartment.
But of course, there was an after-party following the wedding. Our friends were ready for more fun times, but I was clutching my side, mentally checking over my body and wondering if I could manage the 45-minute drive on top of a party.
Andrew looked at me and said, “Do you feel well enough to go?” I really, really didn’t. But I also hate being the fun-ruiner.
So after hemming and hawing and hoping that Andrew would shut down the fun for me, I finally agreed to the after party.
It was a bad idea. While the previous agreement was to hang out “only for a little bit,” no one wanted the festivities to end. And because I hurt too much to stand in a circle and follow everyone around the house, I sat in a chair for most of the night, making me look 1) super not fun, 2) like I was pouting and 3) did I mention super not fun?
I luckily managed the drive back, but I was obviously not happy. I didn’t say a word the whole ride, and I immediately went to sleep when we got to our friend’s apartment.
Heading back to our house the next day, Andrew and I talked over what I dubbed the “miscommunication” and what Andrew saw as a “complete lack of communication.” He would have immediately told his friends we had to head back had I made it clear that’s what I needed. But I didn’t, so he figured I was fine to hang out longer.
“How could he not see it?” I thought. “I was clutching my side, practically limping, giving him the ‘read my mind and know that I feel sick’ eyes and… oh… uhh maybe I should use words.”
Why was I so scared to let my friends and my husband know that I felt sick? Yes, I hate being the fun-ruiner. And I hate being a burden on people when my health wears down.
But whatever gave me the reason to believe I’m a burden?
It reminded me of this time I got sick when I was a kid. I threw up in the middle of the night, but I didn’t want to wake up my parents and tell them. I remember my mom sadly looking at me and saying, “Don’t you love me?”
Love is asking for help. Love is telling people what you need. Love is letting people love you.
As a kid, I didn’t let my parents love me when I got sick. At that wedding, I didn’t let my husband and my friends love me when I needed to go home. I was selfish. I kept it inside and let myself bear my own burden.
If your friends and family love you (which they do), they want to prioritize your physical needs. They want to be there for you. They want to love you by caring for you.
So if you’re in a situation like mine, and you don’t want to ruin plans — whether because of an illness or for a completely different reason — please remember this. Please love yourself and let others love you, too.
Follow this journey on Still Sunflowers.
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