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Why I Say 'Yes' to Events Even Though Chronic Illness Means My Answer Is 'No'

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I do it. I’m excited, and slightly embarrassed I wore my hole-ridden sweats and my slippers, as I meet up with an old friend at the grocery store. Before we know it, a firm date has been scheduled and the word “yes” comes out instead of no.

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Deep down inside I know I can’t go to Megan’s Skin Pamper Party, where 30 people will be gathered to drink things I can’t, eat food I shouldn’t and… socialize. Ugh. It’s an hour drive from my house and probably three hours of superficial meet and greets to spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need. This is socially acceptable, I tell myself. I must go or people will forget about me, I more honestly reflect. That’s when I stop and realize that’s the real reason I have a hard time saying no. People will forget me. It seems terrifying.


I play it in my head. First I say no, then I say no again and soon they stop asking all together. I kind of want to take a deep sigh of relief but I’m actually more terrified of being forgotten.

I want to have friends, but running into them leaves me panic-stricken when we’re both desperately trying to play catch-up and I get caught up in the moment and say what I would ideally like.

I would like to say yes and mean it.

I would like to know how I’m feeling in three weeks.

I would like to go to everything I’m invited to and have a blast.

That’s not my reality.

What I wish I’d say when I run into an old friend: “It’s great to see you and have a few minutes to catch up. I don’t know if I can make your party but I’ll let you know as the date approaches,” or “No, I can’t attend that but it’s really been great running into you” or even “I would really like to catch up with you one-on-one sometime. Let’s keep in touch to see if we can arrange a lunch someday,” or lastly, “I can’t attend this time but please keep me in mind for the next party.”

If I practice saying those phrases then I avoid locking myself into a situation where I’m committing to an event I’m likely not going to attend.

I think we all want to be invited to the party, even if we can’t go. Going has no relevance to how happy it makes me just being invited.

So, the real reason I have a hard time saying no is that I don’t want to be forgotten. Over here in my corner, my little slice of life, I still have a deep human desire to be included and wanted. So friends, please don’t forget us, no matter how many times we say “no.”

Thinkstock photo via JohanJK.

Originally published: September 11, 2017
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