To My Friends and Family Who Don’t Have Fibromyalgia
Thanks for being you, for listening, watching, reading and learning about my condition whilst riding this wave with me. I know it’s been years now. I know it gets old, boring even, to hear me talk about it All. The. Time. Part of me is sorry, though I’m not sure I’ll ever stop, because the thing is, I’ll always have this condition.
A few people have dropped off along the way, stopped asking, stopped listening, stopped sympathizing, I’m learning to be OK with that. I have to be. Yes, it hurts my feelings, even when I don’t tell you it does, and again when I do. It hurts my feelings when you ignore the honesty of my illness-related posts, and only engage in the cute pictures of my kid. It hurts when you ask me how I am and I’m honest about how I’ve been feeling and you don’t reply. But, I do think about how hard it is to be around me sometimes, how difficult it can be to know what to say. With that in mind, I’m grateful if you’re still here, even when it might seem like I’m not grateful for anything.
You see, this illness makes me irritable. I get angry with my body, often. On some days, better days I might seem totally “normal.” I might even resemble “the old me,” but please know that I am never not thinking about how this illness impacts my life. I am never not considering how activities like having fun with you today might affect me tomorrow or for days, sometimes weeks after the event.
I still want to do all of the fun things you suggest and sometimes I’m able to, but there will be days when I need to cancel last minute. There will be times when we are out together that you might roll your eyes because I can’t walk back up the hill we just descended, or I can’t come and dance with you when our song comes on. I’m rolling my eyes at me too. I’m annoyed at my body too. What I can promise you I’m not doing is faking it. There is never a time that I want sympathy more than I want to have fun.
Believe me when I tell you that, because it’s important you understand, this illness is real. It’s also interchangeable, it’s sporadic. It could be down to the last minute that I am living it up and having the best time then crashing in bed for days afterward. This is partly why I’ve pulled back from making plans. Pulled back from committing to things. This is why I’ve not reached out to ask if you want to do anything for ages, because I fear that if I do, and then I become suddenly unable, you will think I’m flakey. You might start to resent me, and drop off the radar with the rest of the people that couldn’t fix me.
I am not broken, I’m just bent, learning to live again (almost a quote from a P!nk song there). Please know that I still want to be included in your plans and I still want to include you in mine. I just can’t assure you that I’ll always be able to fulfill them. Just know, when I make them, it’s always with the best intentions. I’m trying new ways to manage this condition all the time. I’m always trying, to be better, to do better, to make better choices that will benefit me and ultimately our relationship in the long run, even when you might not think I am.
I wish I could go back in time and do more things with you before I got sick, but sadly time traveling isn’t a side effect of chronic illness. Though it’s hard for you to see me like this, though I’m hard to be around sometimes, I am a better, more compassionate and caring friend because of my illness. Of that, I am certain.
If in the past I’ve rolled my eyes at your struggles, I’m truly sorry. If I seem lacking or caught up in my own life, I’m sorry for that too, because I do care. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have all the solutions – but I still care. More compassionately and with more integrity than I’ve ever cared before.
If you’re still here – thank you and if you’re not, I understand. Letting go is something I’ve had to get used to, and it’s something I’m trying to do without resentment. We all have to look after ourselves and sometimes that includes making changes and protecting ourselves from negativity, including negative people, and whilst I do feel like I am a good and loyal friend, I’m fully aware I’m not always a positive one.
Getty image by Fizkes.