Some of my fellow chronic fighters may identify with this piece, at the very least I hope it connects with some of you out there. It is something extremely personal and has taken many years for me to mentally and emotionally process. It has not been easy and it has been devastating at times.
Here goes …
When I became unwell, or started to suffer and deteriorate, so did many of my relationships. For a long time (too long) I blamed myself. I blamed myself for everything and I blamed myself for far too much than I should have.
It must have been my fault. Right? After all, it was me who got sick. It was me that couldn’t do anything or everything asked of me. It was me who became unreliable. It was me who couldn’t do everything people wanted. It was me who changed. It was me who wasn’t good enough. I was so wrong and selfish to prioritize my health when others expected me to do things that they wanted. Right?
A once close friend whom I always made time for and was always supportive of started disappearing and making constant excuses for not being there or showing up for me emotionally. I blamed myself. The friend even tried to make me feel guilty for expecting kindness and support in return. Always excuses. Always their own selfish view on the relationship and never any regard for my feelings and circumstances. It took a long time to see that the problem wasn’t my illness, It was them. Their character was coming out as mine was being overhauled too and life was highlighting exactly who they were as a person. After all relationships are a two way street!!
I had gotten so used to blaming myself for all the things that people did and said that I forgot something very important. I forgot to examine their behaviors!
Often we become so used to blaming ourselves and hating ourselves for what has happened to our health that we forget to look carefully at the behaviors and responsibilities of others. I forgot to or perhaps I never really knew how to; it’s hard to say.
I had gotten so used to blaming myself and hating myself that when someone was rude, someone said it was all in my head, someone said I was attention seeking, someone said I was boring, someone said I was pathetic, someone talked down about me or someone said I was embarrassing I simply accepted it. Sometimes I may have even believed it! … It is something I will never do again.
Thanks to being kicked and tested so often I started to let myself question their behaviors and make them accountable for themselves. I realized that it was them that had a lot to answer to; if they ever would admit it or own up to it. Regardless though, it made a huge difference to my life and my future.
I now believe that a real friend would no sooner abandon you than walk to the moon and back. A real loved one would stand strong and remember the love they have for you. A person with real character would realize that life has many challenges and tests and accept that we all have our struggles without retreating or disrespecting you.
The shift made a huge difference to me and how I see and value things. When I stopped being so focused on looking down on myself I could see the relationships from many different angles.
I then started asking myself if the person could be cruel, unsupportive, selfish and judgmental do I really want or need them in my life? The answer was a resounding no! Even if my health was better I still wouldn’t want that type of person in my life. Ever. No matter who they were.
The types of relationships I treasure and value now are completely different. Even the relationship I have with myself is changed forever.
I even handle the end of relationships and letting go in a much more, dare I say it, peaceful manner! I no longer feel stressed or broken. It is incredibly empowering.
The moment you take the power from someone to dehumanize you, devalue you or control your feelings you become a person with new meaning and purpose… even if you are chronically ill or disabled. And you can begin to grow.