Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Breakable Bonds Of Friendship

Yet another area of our lives chronic illness bulldozes. I blogged some months back, when I was still running around in a bathing suite and working on my tan, how we met a couple that seemed really nice. So we started hanging out with them. And quickly realized we had as much in common with them as Russell Brand has with the Pope. They worked hard all week to watch obsessive amounts of mixed martial arts sporting events and get black-out, pass-out drunk every weekend. It didn't take us long to figure out we were oil and they were water. We tried, we did. But after the third time hanging out with them my husband and I looked at each other, and the expensive bar tab we were hardly able to afford, and said enough. I have spent months trying to figure out why on earth we came off as compatible to die-hard partiers? Why would they just assume we were like that? I told the girl I was sick from the get-go. But she just did not get it. We told them we didn't go out very much but then decided we were fuddy duddy and joined them when invited. But it just did not work. On the bright side I was given a chance to confirm that at age 35 sitting in a bar and watching people get wasted is not only boring but actually extremely annoying.

When I first got sick my social life mainly consisted of work friends and party friends. Both dropped off quickly, for they were not friendships based on anything real or lasting, but more temporary circumstance. A handful of friends remained from my past but undoubtedly the day would come  when they would expect or need something from me and I would let them down. Most of them eventually faded away, too. Then there were the stressful and high maintenance friends. Usually so self absorbed they didn't notice when I got sick, once I stopped doing what they wanted, giving them the attention their bad behavior usually illicited, they dropped me, too. That sucked, because I was the one that should have said, Get on outa here, you are too much for me! But my self-esteem took a big ding when I got sick and standing up for myself became hard.

I now have about five friends from my past. They are my true friends. The ones I will have for life. They know me and love me and accept me for who I am. But none of them live anywhere even remotely near me. It's lonely. But something happened, when I started this blog and The Fibromyalgia Fun House on Facebook. I made friends! True and real friends of my heart. They not only offer me compassion and sympathy when I so desperately need it, they understand firsthand that when I say my clothes hurt my skin, my clothes really do hurt my skin and I do NOT need to be checked into a psych hospital. At least not for that. It is amazing to not have to explain every little thing in so much detail I get sick of hearing myself talk and just want to go to bed. But none of them live near me, either. So the solution to the whole rigmarole of establishing future friendships hangs in the balance. But I have figured out what I am going to do. It is called my "Friendship Disclaimer". In summary it states I am a true and faithful friend to the end BUT you have to really want to be friends with me because I am way more focused on myself than I should be. I can't always go the extra mile, physically or emotionally. I disappear for days on end when I am absorbed in a particularly intriguing piece I am writing or in a bitch-from-hell flare. I expect you to come to me and put forth most of the effort, for I simply can't. And no drama, I just can't do drama. So anyone nuts enough to accept those conditions, who does not get falling down drunk every night, is welcome to apply. Just read my "Disclaimer" first so you can't say I didn't warn you!

Thanks for joining,


  1. So with you on this one, Leah! Most of my friends live far away, too. What I hate is when you feel realy good and then 10 minutes later you feel like crap...that's what happened to me today. It's hard to explain that to family and friends...."But, you just felt great a few minutes ago"....

  2. Leah, You said it all. I've watched as "friend" after "friend" disappeared-- or said things like "Call me when you feel better."

  3. Oh I can so relate ... I think me and my hubby are the most boringest (is that a word?) couple ever, it has taken a while, but you know what? We are quite ok being that fuddy duddy couple ha! I don't (can't drink), it puts me in bed for 2 weeks and it just isn't worth it! I can't stay up late (my last late night was New Years Eve and me and hubby said, never again!). Our ideal night is to lay in bed and watch movies/laptop - lol it sounds so boring ... but to me, it's my little piece of heaven, and you know what? I am content with that and so is hubby <3 Much love! :)

  4. Oh, Leah, you hit the nail on the ever-so-germane head with this one. "Don't you have friends down there? Don't you have any family?" My two favorite questions. I have two friends and very aloof family. I have made it my mission in life to move to where my long-standing friends are. I don't expect them to entertain me day and night, but being in a room with them once in a while will do me a world of good.

    My disclaimer: I don't look sick. If you need me to look sick to believe I am, then keep moving. If you resent me because you think I don't look sick, so I must not be, and I therefore must be a lazy person trying to scam the system or get out of responsibility, I will not accept you into my life. If you can accept some disorganization due to the illness, that I cannot do some things, and that I may say ow a lot, then welcome. Please remember though, it's not as easy as it sounds.


  5. What is difficult, is that a lot of my family and friends don't understand is that I can't commit to a lot of things.It's not that I dont wanna eat lunch, go to the movies, etc, It's the fact that I wanna be able to get up and move about the next day to do normal every day activities. Sometimes, I am able to go out do things have dinner or sumpin but it's on my body's terms, in which I never know.I have ppl that get mad at me for cancelling or get mad at me for forgetting because of my fog. I just give up. I think I should put a disclaimer up as well Leah, too many folks get mad at me. I just assumed not be dealt with the drama period. I guess that's why this fibrate is practically a hermit.

  6. Leah, I am SO with you on this one. I am down to one good friend and now she is going through a health crisis and demanding quite a bit of help from me. Sometimes I just have to shut off the phone and computer and say I can't do anymore for you today! She's always been there for me and she's got stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, so I don't blame her for being needy, but it does get hard when you can't commit to something and people don't understand.

    Have you noticed how some people will acknowledged your illness, but then expect you to set it aside as soon as they become sick or need something? It's like a skin we're supposed to shed as soon as they need something from us. I don't stop being sick just because you got sick! I still need to pamper myself so that I am capable of just getting up in the morning.

    All of my "true" friends live far away or in the internet. It really is very lonely. And my husband works so much now that I don't really get to spend time with him either. So I try to cross stitch and read and watch movies and not be mad and sad and upset that nobody wants to come over and take care of me.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. :)Your idea for a dislcaimer is perfect. I will be making one of my own (it may sound alot like yours-not trying to steal it though) I just feel the SAME way!! I can't thank you enough for putting words to the feelings I didn't realize I was feeling. I shared your blog with a friend and she felt the same way. Keep on Blogging!!

  8. I love the disclaimer. This is so me. I lost my best friend because she couldn't stand me getting more attention than her. Attention I didn't want, I must add, but when you can't do certain things, you get attention whether you want it or not. I have one good friend locally and several others who know how things are for me. I always used to put others first, but that got me nowhere. Now I need to put myself first.

  9. Awesome post! It's so painfully true that "friends" disappear when we get sick, but it's also true that those people are not the kinds of friends we need around us now . . . I love the disclaimer, too. THAT is a brilliant idea!

  10. How i would love to copy and paste this!!! I just ended a 30 something year relationship with a "friend" I couldn't party with her anymore so I became boring. She couldn't understand why I was in bed so much and in pain. Yet I printed out a simple to read FM page and she never even read it!
    I could not have said this any better Leah it sounds exactly like me. When I'm tired the world could be falling apart. But I need to sleep!

  11. Wow. I am experiencing this first hand at the moment and my heart is just broken. I have even flat out asked for more support and help and all I have gotten in response is silence. I have no friends anymore. Just my boyfriend who I fear will eventually tire of my severe illness,inability to work, unstable mood swings and fatigue and leave me. Plus I am currently in the process of learning of yet another invisible autoimmune disease is thriving on my body.

    I just read this blog that speaks of similar friendless territory.