When You're Ill and Your Friend Isn't in Your Support System

We expect that the people closest to us will be supportive if we ever need them. Because they love us. That’s part of loving someone, isn’t it?

I think it should be part of loving someone, but, my experience tells me otherwise. My experience tells me life is never that simple. And people don’t live by a rule book of “shoulds.”

Some people can’t be what I need them to be. Can’t be what I desperately wish they could be.

I grew to understand that harsh fact a long time ago.

What I’ve only recently discovered, though, is that it’s not because I’m lacking, or don’t deserve the support. It’s not because I’m too much of this or that. It’s not because I’m chronically ill and am too much to handle. It’s not my fault.

It’s because they have their own issues. It has absolutely nothing to do with me.

It’s like an accident. Let’s say I’m in a little red car. I’m safely driving, I park legally. I stop to gather my belongings. I’m still in the car. Up the road there is a troubled person, a troubled person who I know and love, who is standing on a bridge and struggling with their own pain.

They get upset, raise their hands to the sky, forgetting they were holding a briefcase full of papers. The briefcase falls off the bridge, opens and its contents scatter, causing the cars below to have a large accident. One of those cars veers out of control and hits my parked car, with me in it. Hurts me. I’m not severely injured, but I am hurt. A little bit damaged. And it was someone I love who caused it all. Did they intend it? Was it their goal? No. Does that take away from the fact that their actions and inability to deal with their problems, caused me pain? No.

But, it does prove that it was never about me. The person simply doesn’t have what it takes to take on my struggles because they can barely take on their own.

So, what I need to do, is find a way where it works for both of us, where the potential for more needless hurt is minimized; so that the hurt doesn’t become a constant thing. I can only be hit by a car so many times before I can take no more. The answer of what to do will vary, but the answer about whether I deserved any of the pain in the first place, is a resounding no.

Some people can’t be what I need them to be. That’s a part of life. It’s a painful, emotional thing to acknowledge, but recognizing it has helped me immensely. Taking the blame off of myself has helped me find peace and has helped me have more compassion for the people who have hurt me. They are hurting too.

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