If You're Thinking About Ending a Friendship With Someone Who Is Chronically Ill
Stares and glances coming my way, eyes of disgust, dismay, and confusion in these peoples eyes.
“Why is this young looking girl wearing oxygen?”
“What is that on her face?”
“Why is she here, shouldn’t she be at home?”
Going to events, being around people, the noise and just talking is so hard for me. The annoying cannula in my nose, the backpack I have to carry wherever I go. There was no way of stopping the looks, but trying to ignore them all is even harder.
People just going on and living their lives, like this kind of thing could never happen to them. Family and friends acting like they’re ashamed or scared to be judged just because they have to walk or be next to you. Although they try to hide it, you can see the look on their faces and they start spending less and less time with you.
Trying to be a normal woman in her 20s just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t cool and hardly anyone wanted to be around me. People stopped inviting me to things. Close friends stopped coming around and even stopped calling. The only time I would hear from them is when I initiated the conversation myself. Everyone tells me they are “too busy, life is just so hectic” for them right now.
Do you ever get that same story and pony show? Sometimes don’t you just wish others would realize life is too short not to be spending time with others? Life is too short to put material things, or other people before your family, friends and loved ones. What does it take for people to realize this? I think people realize this when it is too late. We realize these things matter when we lose a loved one. When that person isn’t around to care or talk to you anymore. As humans, we realize things and people matter the most when it’s too late. But why don’t we try and change that? We should spend more time with people and tell people how people how much they matter to us.
Then there are those that just want to be nice and ask you, “How are you doing?” But no one really wants to know the real truth when they ask this simple kind of question. I mean, who wants to hear a ton of negative things that are happening to a person? So my answer that I always decide to say is, “I’m fine” or “I am great, or “I am doing so good and I love life so much – how are you?” When I really want to say is, “Well, I fell several times today. I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to the bathroom so I peed my pants.” Another answer I want to give is, “I am super sick to my stomach. My heart does not want to cooperate with me today, my pacemaker has been shocking me so much throughout the day so I have pain in my arm. There is so much severe pain all over my body right now, I am not even sure how I am sitting or standing up to have this conversation with you. I have such a bad headache, I can barely even keep my eyes open to continue to talk to you.”
Now, if this person was you who asked me (or anyone else), “How there were doing?” and I said any of that stuff, would you still want to continue a conversation with me? I didn’t think so. You would probably think to yourself, “Wow. This girl complains way too much. She acts like her life is ending. What a drama queen!” Believe me, for those of us that are sick, reading your expressions on your faces says it all. I get it, it can be very hard to grasp and understand why we feel this way because you yourself aren’t going through it. To be honest with you, until you go through it yourself or see someone else go through the same thing, I think it will always be difficult to grasp.
After I am done talking to someone they then go on talking about their lives, telling me, “I am lucky that I don’t have to deal with these certain things,” or, “I was lucky to not have a job and to come home so exhausted from a long work day.” They may even tell me that they went on vacation and got burnt, or their vacation didn’t go as they planned.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love hearing about peoples jobs, their lives, and love that they can do all of these things. I am incredibly grateful for them! But as humans don’t we all complain at some point? I think we do because as humans we all have a moment of negativity that comes out of our mouth. In my opinion, I think this is just part of our human nature. So why is it OK to complain about your job, your kids, your babies and your life? Then as soon as we hear something from someone that is sick about their setbacks, their frustrations and their complaints, we go straight to not wanting to talk to them.
We say things like,“They’re bringing my life down. They make me so depressed just talking to them. I can’t talk or see her anymore because all she talks about is being sick.” Well, guess what? I want to tell you something about the life of someone who is sick.
Their full-time job is being sick. They have to plan their life according to their certain medications, their doctor’s appointments and the struggles they face daily. Just like you that has your job, your schooling and your kids. We do the same thing, but just in a different way. Why kick someone out of your life for sharing their complaints and how they feel? When they empathize with you when you talk about your life and your struggles? I only wish I could work, have a baby, go on vacation, just to go out and hang out with people and do fun things. I am not saying all these things to make you feel bad for me, and I am sure a lot of chronically ill people out there we don’t want sympathy. We just want to show people how we feel, because as humans we all have feelings. Sometimes our bodies are just in control and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
For a long time, I just continued to be down on myself about how I looked in public. I wouldn’t even go out in public or be around people that I knew just would look at me differently. But after time passed, I realized there is nothing I can do about this. This is what it will be like and I need to have confidence in myself. Now I know you can do that too, you just have to give yourself that allotted amount of time. Time heals wounds, even when the scars are all still there. You become stronger in the end when you trust yourself and believe in yourself – and I know you can do it!
Getty Image by KristinaJovanovic
This story originally appeared on The Chronicles of the Chronically Ill Woman.