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The 2 Feelings I Oscillate Between After Losing Friends Due to Chronic Illness

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To say that I have been disappointed with people since I have fallen ill would be a huge understatement and I know that many chronic illness warriors can agree. It mind-boggles me how some people can simply just not care, not check in with how you’re doing or fail to show you any support. I think over all the possible excuses they may have in my head… “They must be really busy, they don’t know what to say… etc.,” but c’mon, how much effort does it take to send a quick message to someone who is struggling to let them know you’re thinking of them? I’m talking about all different levels of friendship here. Some people I considered special friends I won’t hear from for months on end, sometimes years! I know I’m a typical INFJ personality type who is often thinking of others but I still can’t fathom how many people continually fail to reach out.

I have been diagnosed with four serious conditions since falling ill over three
years ago, and quite frankly, it’s pretty disheartening to see the lack of real
support I’ve been shown despite being pretty open about my illnesses. I think
what makes it harder is that I have always prided myself on being a good friend but as soon as I became unwell for any length of time those friendships fell by the wayside. This doesn’t seem right, does it? In fact, it seems pretty darn wrong! This world is cold and harsh enough at times without our supposed “friends” not being there for us when we need them. And I’m not talking about asking for anything but some moral support – I’m the one who has to face my health issues! Yet, unfortunately, for many this has been too much to ask and I have been riddled with disappointment time and time again.

Now, those close to me have said to me to lower my expectations of other people. You know, just don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed. However, I’m not sure I can agree with that. The day we can’t expect some sign of support from our friends when we’re desperately ill is a very sad day. Despite learning some hard lessons about people during this time I will probably still be dumbfounded from time to time because I know if the situation were reversed how much I would be willing to do for them.

Nonetheless, while disappointment often overshadows many other feelings I have, there’s another emotion I should focus more on. That emotion is thankfulness. To put it bluntly, I’m thankful I’m not like them. I’m thankful I know with certainty what true friendship should look like. I’m thankful that many of these people are no longer part of my life because as it turns out they weren’t my real friends anyhow. I’m thankful I have empathy and compassion for my fellow chronic illness warriors. I’m thankful for the real friends I do have, not that they never let me down, but they make an effort to show me they care no matter how small it may be.

If you’re in a similar situation to me, try to let thankfulness override the
disappointment. As hard as it can be to accept, people not being there when we need them is a reflection on them – not us. So no matter how many friendships you lose and how much disappointment you feel – be thankful you are you, not them.

Getty Image by shotsstudio

Originally published: March 12, 2018
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