I just called someone from my past — one of the many people who disappeared when I got sick. I called her because I needed contact info on a cat sanctuary I want to visit when it comes time to adopt a couple of new kitties. I didn’t have another means of getting the info.
Anyway, this is someone who while I was here in NC was one of my closer friends…I hadn’t lived here long so these were not long-term or developed friendships and when I got sick EVERY SINGLE ONE OF these people fell away…and quickly. It was pretty devastating at the time and it remains difficult sometimes.
I got the info I needed today and then there was a predictably awkward and painful exchange. She asked how I was at the beginning of the call and I said, “I don’t know how to answer that.” I then quickly changed the subject to the cat sanctuary. There is no way to, in a nutshell, express what has gone on in the 8 years that I’ve been ill. Later when she asked again she said, “you must still be having health problems since you said you didn’t know how to answer the question.” My response was, “well, I’m getting much better, but I’m sorry I don’t really know where to start with someone who dropped out of my life…I was bedridden for two years…I am no longer…I’m getting better. I don’t really want to have this conversation.”
She then said that when I wanted to she could tell me her side of the story. I do not have that sort of generosity at this point, because EVERYONE has a story about why they can’t be around sick people. I don’t want to hear them. Not at this point. I have room in my heart to acknowledge and have compassion for those who are too frail to face the ugliness of grave illness and suffering but I don’t need to hear it when I was the one rejected and it can still cause me deep pain and hurt.
Things do change. I’ve reconnected with a few of these friends now. I’ve also reconnected with my sister. Some of the relationships though are simply and clearly ruptured as well. I’ve learned that this is all okay. Moving forward with the relationships that have survived can be tricky and time is needed for healing with some of them too. Clarity does come.
I don’t really hold hard feelings– not in a universal way — towards most of these folks anymore. However, on a personal level, well, I’m still a human being and it hurt and it’s often simply not wise to subject oneself to more hurt, hence I felt fine about making a boundary with this woman.
Also the glorious truth is that I’ve built far better friendships in the wake of this devastation! This experience proved an effective way to clean up my life, really very effective, if also painful. And we all mess up in life. We all come up against our limits in numerous ways, sometimes failing even people we love — which is why on a universal level I hold no grudge…I still like the above woman…I just don’t want to be her friend. Yes, seriously! I trust my gut…and we are not meant to have relationships with everyone always. I’m also open for the changing of anything and everything as the only constant in life is change. It may be cliché but it’s true. Perhaps I will not feel this way about this woman in the future.
I’m going to cut and paste a page from my navigation menu below. It’s about the phenomena of losing people to serious illness because all of us with any sort of chronic illness face this, whether it’s protracted withdrawal syndrome or MS or lupus (etc).
The isolation and sense of abandonment many people deal with when sick with protracted withdrawal illness.
This is a collection of posts that were all very popular and broadly shared among people in protracted withdrawal illness on community boards. I also still get people writing to me and asking me to remind me where they can find them on the blog. In fact the reason I’m making this page here now is because both yesterday and today two different people wrote to me asking me for the links to these pieces.
I wish isolation and the feeling of abandonment was not so common when we are ill, but it is and it does help to know that we are not alone in this phenomena so I’m sharing the posts I’ve done on the topic here.
There is both validation for those who feel abandoned here and also hope and inspiration that it will pass and we will all be better people after we regain our health and/or perspective.
More recently I added a post in which I’ve come to have compassion on some of the painful behavior our loved ones show in the face of our illness:
Also in time as our souls heal we can learn to cope better and better with the limitations our bodies still have:
A collection of links: Information and inspiration for the chronically ill
These archives now span close to five years. They are a record of a time in my life when I was learning and transforming at a rate unlike any other time in my life. I say this as a way of disclaimer. In the earlier years of this blog I am processing shock and dismay. In the early years I am undisputedly angry. I have worked out much of that and see things in a much less judgmental manner now. This continues to evolve. I sometimes want to take down old posts because they no longer convey how I feel, but I realize that they may still be helpful to people who are going through something similar now. The journey got me to where I am today, it’s just odd to have some of it in writing here for all to see.
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