When I Live With the Fear of Rejection Because of Chronic Illness

One of my biggest insecurities in regards to living with chronic illness is the fear of rejection. Most of the time, I’m afraid to talk about my health status because I feel like people will get tired of hearing about it and ultimately stop talking to me. Just how many panic attacks, fibromyalgia flare-ups, stomach aches or chronic fatigue spells do people actually want to hear about?

My point is that opening up about how I’m actually doing and feeling can be a vulnerable and scary process. Just tonight, a friend messaged me on Facebook and told me I looked beautiful and happy in my most recent picture post from Christmas Day. What she doesn’t know is I spent most of Christmas day in serious pain and sleeping, with panic attacks in between naps. After all, chronic illness doesn’t check the calendar; she comes whenever she wants, with or without warning.

I’m working regularly with my therapist on accepting chronic illness as part of my life, understanding that I’m not my body and that these things are neither my fault nor in my control. Even still, I worry constantly that if I share with others how I actually feel, they won’t be able to handle it. I continue to find ways to prove to myself that I’m not broken, flawed or less than, but my inner dialogue is harsh and unforgiving.

Most of the time, it seems easier to lie or at least omit the truth. I say “I’m fine” or “I’m good” automatically and often shift the subject to the other person.

The times where I am received well after finding the courage to share how I’m actually feeling are truly beautiful experiences. I consider each authentic conversation to be a gift. One of my favorite things in the world is when someone asks me how I am doing and then they wait for an answer, without any sort of agenda other than inquiring about my well-being. Those moments help me find the courage to answer more authentically.

Ultimately, I’m seeking to have the self-esteem to be OK with me no matter how other people react to my responses on how I’m doing. I know this won’t happen overnight, but it’s my goal.

In the meantime, I will keep working on overcoming my fears of rejection because of my health challenges. It’s a slow process and one that is important to me.

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