Wrote this in response to a recent conversation/email with a friend who expressed that she was afraid to open up to me or bother me with things in her life because she knows what I am dealing with due to my chronic health issues. She explained that she felt confused and that she felt she had to walk on egg shells. She was afraid to invite me to things because she didn’t want me to feel pressured, but felt guilty when she didn’t try to include me. I sincerely appreciated her being direct and honest because the friendship was becoming dysfunctional so fast because of this weird barrier I felt between us… Having a friend that was once healthy and vibrate become chronically ill or disabled has to be a confusing situation on both sides. Wonder how many of us have numerous relationships that could be made richer with these honest conversations. I know I can think of a few more in my life.
I hate that you feel that you are walking on eggshells, and I really appreciate your honesty in sharing that with me. I care so much about you and I want to be a real friend. My physical issues definitely do not change that and I don’t want you to feel like you are somehow protecting me by not opening up to me. I am not able to do a lot of traditional friend things anymore. I’m not able to go out for coffee in the evenings or to the movies, talk on the phone for an hour, or go out and do typical girl things… of course I would love to be able to do that and sincerely believe it will change at some point, but I very much accept where I am right now and just have to be creative about building and maintaining relationships and continuing to reach personal goals.
I don’t feel left out or pressured if I can’t do things and I definitely don’t resent anyone else for being able to. This is the hand I’ve been dealt at this time and I need to learn how to make the absolute most out of it. I have stopped trying to compare myself to “the other woman” (the old me) because I cannot keep up any more! I know this is as equally confusing for my friends to figure out as it is for me, and it probably feels like a lot of work to have a relationship like this. Had I known someone who was dealing with this before I had experienced it myself, I’m pretty sure I would have judged them pretty severely for it. I thought I had dealt with quite a few hurdles in my life before, but I had honestly never faced anything that is so overpowering. In my mind I thought things were pretty simple. You don’t commit to something unless you are going to see it through, you don’t give in to things that keep you from being involved your own life… if you pray, then God will heal you; if you go to the doctor, they will fix it… if that doesn’t work?? I really sincerely and honestly (and um…idiotically) felt like then you just have to suck it up and continue on with your life in the same way you always did. I didn’t realize how absolutely impossible and unfair that thinking was and it has taken a few years to retrain my thinking on this.
Right now with friendships its feels like this weird and distorted “Good behavior program” If I am feeling well and have energy then I get the reward of being with my friends, but if I am not, then the relationships fizzle. This makes for some manic friendships and confusing emotions. I am working at figuring out how to continue friendships even if I have lengthy seasons of not being able to be “normal”.
That said… all of these limitations do not change my love for my friends and the desire inside of me to be involved in their lives. I think email is a great tool as well as talking by phone. I felt like the last few times that we talked that I dumped all that was going on in our life out to you, but I didn’t get to hear about you, and that breaks my heart. 😦 I feel (and am) so undependable when it comes to getting together and so I am afraid to even try to set things up anymore…
I am no longer in control of what I can do each day. It’s not a matter of attitude or desire, but the very nature of pain and fatigue is that even if it happens constantly it never becomes “normal” or something you can just tune out. It is just there. Always. And it is distracting as hell. And loud!! As if you have a radio blaring in your ears while you try to have a conversation.
It is like living life with the flu. You CAN do things, but then you pay for it later and crash and burn, and the job that you do on things is… well for lack of a better word… “half-assed” 🙂 in comparison to your former standards. There are some things that I have to force myself to do no matter how I feel, but if I do that for a social engagement then it really becomes quite pointless because for my friends it’s like going on a date with a cardboard cutout! Anytime I have a window where I feel somewhat human, I get on the phone and catch up with everyone. From there, usually my expectations quickly (immediately) change and I begin making plans as if I am going to continue to “live” in this place… ie: commitments with my daughters, dates with my husband, plans with friends, commitments to have people over… all the normal things that people do to try to build relationships. My friends, in turn, then also roll with this thinking and start to count me in again, and before long… I get hit once again… have to bail out… and don’t look like good friend material anymore. It’s just a roller coaster.
I guess I just want to know that I miss our conversations and that my heart is just as committed to being here as it ever was. The last thing I want is for my friends to feel that there is a lack of concern or love for them. I just can’t express it the same way that I used to.
Anyway… so… in case you wanted to know what I was thinking… there it all is…:)