This one word can bring up unbearable emotions for us chronic illness women. A friend is someone who listens without judgement and somehow makes everything feel just right.
Do you remember the way you and her would have whole conversations with just one look? You craved her opinions; never would you consider watching that new Netflix series without her review first. That guy that just dumped you who she thought was your knight in shining armour? Well he’s an arse-hat now, and she’s going to nail him to the garden fence if he dares show up on your doorstep again.
One day she simply stopped showing up.
Another coffee date missed – work ran late she said.
Texts left on read – does she not know you can see that?
Every conversation turned into an argument.
In her eyes you had changed. You had, but why did it have to change your relationship? It’s all because her opinions became intolerable, disrespectful and sometimes downright hurtful. She meant well, but you couldn’t listen to her advice about how you were bringing your sickness upon yourself any longer. Why weren’t you taking her advice? Why did you believe that you were right? Why couldn’t you just get over it and go back to your old self again?
Chronic illness changed you. You had to re-learn what was important to you and how to manage your day-to-day life differently. You became an expert in your own conditions because nobody else had. Nobody else could truly understand how hard it was to come to terms with losing the life you had.
So she left.
Leaving you with just the memories of how things used to be. Feeling like it’s all your fault for having a condition that you didn’t choose. You used to feel accepted by her no matter what. Now the memories of her friendship just haunt you.
People change. That’s a given. They don’t always change together.
Now you need to learn to allow someone new into that space, someone who understands the new you, who doesn’t care who the old you was. A chronic illness sister is someone who will love and respect you for life, because she knows suffering.
She wants you to know that you are braver than you think you are, and she will stand with you, support you and never forget about you. She’ll be waiting for your next message and drop you a message if you’ve been gone too long. She loves the imperfect you, the confused and different you – the person who is still trying to discover who she really is now.
A true friend doesn’t pretend everything is going to be alright. She’ll tell you how much this sucks and how difficult it’s going to be. She’ll scare the shit out of you and then say, “I’ll never let you face this alone.”