This is a tough subject for me to write about as it brings up a big bag of mixed emotions. Chronic illness makes relationships tough, very tough. When you have been ill as long as I have, friendships tend to fall by the way side. People in our society want a quick fix, “feel better soon” is on so many cards that I want to puke. CI doesn’t work that way, sickness is forever, barring a miraculous healing……and……yes, I pray and continue to pray for healing and continue to learn about my illnesses and take what steps I can to heal, but our society doesn’t like to deal with things for the long haul.
When you don’t know how you are going to feel in a week, let alone the next hour, it is hard to plan ahead. Your brain so wants to go out and have fun, see friends, explore the world, plan a vacation for next year, but your body may have a very different plan.
As you grow older with your illness(es) it is even harder to maintain friendships. You have had to cancel too often, your energy to reach out to people starts to dwindle. You have a hard enough time just getting through your day……….work (if that is even possible), laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kiddos (if that is in your life), medical appointments, the list goes on and on………………by the end of the day, there is little to no energy left – if you even made it to the end of the day without having to crawl back into bed or back to the sofa.
This post may be sounding a bit like a downer, but I don’t mean it to be so. It is more of a realistic reflection by someone who has been living this life for more than two decades. Only you can determine how to maintain friendships, but I have discovered that it was much easier when I was younger………but as people grow older, have families, careers, their lives become bigger and mine has become smaller. Yes, I was blessed with kids before my CIs really took hold, so all of my energy went to trying to get through my day. Maintaining friendships for me was sending emails and personal letters letting others know I was thinking about them. So many outings and get-togethers had to be cancelled because I just couldn’t be there………..some people get it, others don’t, and you just have to let those that don’t go. It’s not worth the effort or stress on your already struggling body.
You have to be strong enough to truly believe that this is not your fault. You did nothing wrong and you are an amazing person, they are the ones who are missing out by not taking time to be around you. I have come to realize in my years of interacting with people who suffer, most of them are the most compassionate, loving, strong, amazing, gentle, generous people around. If someone can’t see that because you had to cancel dinner plans as a result of your illness……..it is their loss. Eventually the friendship will dissolve and that extra energy can be put in a place where someone will appreciate it and just maybe that someone is YOU!
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