So. Prior to my chronic medical issues, I had friends. Work friends. Casual friends. One who I loved like a sister. Some I saw daily, some on rare occasions, some came in and out of my life through the years.
Once my waning health made it impossible to keep working, my friends changed. Or I changed. Or now that I can look back at that time more rationally, less emotionally, we all changed. Some stayed, some left. Some I neglected, some neglected me. Some I tried desperately to hold on to, others, I let drift away. Not returning calls, invitations, texts, basically avoiding any and all contact. Some avoided me. Probably tired of my constant excuses, cancellations, complaining.
Looking back, no one is to blame. My life changed when my health did. There were things I was no longer able to do, places I couldn’t go, times I couldn’t get out of bed or answer the phone. Some friends tried harder than others. Told me it was okay, they understood, empathized, and missed me.
Others, my “sister,” simply disappeared and refused contact. She broke my heart and destroyed my trust. We had shared everything. Saw each other almost daily, traveled, spent all of our free time together. We spoke on the phone or texted long conversations about any and everything. Dreams, hopes, fears, history, plans for the future.
But then I got sick. And I don’t think she could handle it. I’ll never know her reasons for sure, but for a long time I blamed myself. I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. I couldn’t help her with things like I used to do. I felt horrible. And guilty. Like I abandoned HER!
Now, after deep introspection (and intense therapy), I know I was not to blame. My illness was beyond my control. I pushed myself hard through incredible pain to keep our friendship alive. Was she aware of this? I don’t know. She had accompanied me to many doctor appointments and knew the extent of my chronic pain issues. I backed out of plans and had to cancel events, but she had to know how hard I tried not to.
I understand that some people are so uncomfortable around sickness and disease that they honestly can’t deal. I get that! I do! But it still hurts! And what hurts the most is that I’ll never be sure what really happened. I know I have to move past it, stop blaming myself, stop feeling guilty or at fault.
This is not the life I planned to live, it just happened. I’m still praying for a treatment that works or even a cure. I still plan to return to the working world when able. But I’ll always be careful with my feelings and giving my heart to new people. I hate that I will always be leery and hesitant to make new friends. I hate her for doing that to me! But I still miss her.
Better days ahead fellow chronic pain warriors! My hope for you is friends and family that are loving, caring, empathetic, and love you too much to give up on you! 💜