A common complaint of many fellow chronics is when an old friend, relationship or family member no longer wants to be a part of your (chronic) life anymore. Or visa Versa .
It can be so sad and deeply upsetting for so many of us. Especially when we feel it is not our fault and we can’t control being sick. It’s true we can’t. And it is so important to remember that in the days (and years) that come.
There is no easy way to summarize why your relationship didn’t survive this transition and this new existence, and it can either die a lingering death or break very quickly under the pressures.
At some point though you have to ask yourself the very sincere and thoughtful question “will this relationship be mutually rewarding and fulfilling for us both? Can this relationship evolve to include my changed circumsrances and physical abilities? Or, is this the right time to say goodbye?”
There aren’t any ways to stop the inevitable pain that comes from the end of a relationship but there seems to be some simple things that can be done to help cushion the blow.
1. Ask yourself the deep and sincere question. Am I really happy in this relationship?
2. Do I feel valued and important anymore? Do I have anything to offer and it is it valued?
3. Are my new circumstances too difficult for the other person? (It is important to note that this is not a blaming exercise… just an honest question).
4. Do you feel good about yourself when you interact?
5. What will life be like without this person?
If it seems like that leaving each other’s lives might actually improve both your lives and remove a lot of unnecessary pain and difficulties then it might be time to say goodbye.
Sometimes we don’t get to choose and the other person makes that decision for us. In which case I have still asked myself many of the same questions as I go through the disconnection process. They have the right to make that choice. It’s their life too and they obviously feel it is in their best interests to move on. Wishing them well is honoring that right. Their right.
It was/is so important for me to go through this mental disconnection before I turn it into a real disconnect, so I can prepare.
In my experience the best way to say goodbye is with respect and honesty. Putting all the pain aside and forgetting for a moment any pain that might have taken over, you are both two human beings saying goodbye and moving off on another chapter of your lives.
Sometimes I have had to write a heartfelt and honest letter / email if it is too physically taxing to meet face to face. I write it and let it sit overnight so I don’t feel like I wrote it in haste.
I think the best way is with respect and sincerity. You may have changed. They may have changed. Someone may have been hurt. Someone feels disappointed. Someone is not happy and so on… if the problems can’t be resolved than the best thing to do is to leave it with peace and take the memories of happier times with you.
The first weeks, months, or even years are the hardest. It is the grieving time. Sometimes we tend to remember the good times and relive the bad times over and over. It is normal. The best thing I did to was to remember is that it was necessary for you to move forward with your life. Your chronic life.
Chronic life is filled with sacrifices and endings and it is impossible to comprehend the many challenges that will come along.
I could never have imagined my own experiences and the people and things that I have lost along the way. I wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn’t.
The only thing I find I am better at is being honest with myself and my life. I am better at being resilient after my falls. I am better at prioritizing and valuing things.
Those relationships that have been lost along the way I truly and honestly wish well and hope that those people will go on to live happier lives without the weight of our issues weighing them down. I also, perhaps naively, hope in time they will cherish the happier times we shared as our lives move on.
My heart accepts that nothing is permanent and no one is meant to be forever. No one. All things end. Some things and some people are meant to move in and out of our lives to teach us and help us grow.
I am grateful for even the most painful lessons and the hardest goodbyes. It reminds me that I have a heart and that I have used it.
I don’t expect this blog to magically heal everyone’s wounds and the sadness of all my chronic brother and sisters, but I do hope it offers some new ways to look at some painful realities of living with chronic diseases and illnesses.
This chronic life has truly surprised by how little we need in life and how few people are with us for long periods of time and through difficult times. Life is impermanence. Nothing is guaranteed. They are the greatest and most profound lessons of all!
How we treat ourselves is as important as how others treat us.
If I am faced with a relationship that doesn’t meet both our needs and is more hurtful than enjoyable, than I have to let it go. Sadly, I don’t have the time or abilities to save a lingering relationship, especially alone.
It is never an easy time to say goodbye but there may be the right time.