Conditions

How Friendship Heals Chronic Illness' Emotional Wounds

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Tonight I spoke to a chronically ill patient I have become friends with over the last few weeks. Our public conversations are always silly and funny. But in private – unlike with others we are closer more confidential. She has recently gotten out of the hospital after an extended stay. Whilst she was in there she goofed around online and had fun keeping up good moods and larking around. I get it! I GET IT!

I use my humor too!

Meanwhile – tonight, emotionally exhausted from packing and taking care of my animals and saying goodbye to the city I love (and every friend I love- and even a few enemies I’ll miss), I told her things I do not tell other people. And she confided a bit in me too. How I needed her words.

“I feel like an attention whore.” “No one gets it, none of my friends.” “It is such a mind f***.”  “I feel so guilty and so angry that so many people love me and take care of me and I can’t seem to stay healthy enough for anyone. And even if I stay healthy I can’t seem to keep my GRATITUDE good enough for them to show them how THANKFUL I am for all they do to me.”

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On and on our conversation went. I cannot tell where my words stopped and hers began. I suddenly felt HEALED tonight. Healed of my rage. I felt healed of my anger at myself for not being STRONG enough not to NEED OTHER PEOPLE. I felt healed at being “an attention whore.” I felt healed that I cannot single handedly GET RID OF ALL THESE DISEASES. I felt healed that I need help. I felt healed that I sometimes want love and will sometimes NOT FIND IT – even when I deserve it.

I realize that IF SHE FEELS IT TOO- then I am not alone. And if I feel it then so must YOU. We are all in this together.

I have been holding this in for quite a while – playing perfect patient.  Because I am quite a good patient. I can joke with all the staff. I can say goodbye to all my doctors and shed tears at leaving my beloved therapist. I can adore my surgeon and yet see how easily McHotterson only gives a f*** about me if there is something to cut on. AND MAYBE- just maybe THAT IS HIS PROBLEM AND NOT MINE. Once I am not his patient then I am NOTHING anymore. Sometimes people who matter or care about someone – need that feeling extended just a little longer. (It is a flaw in the system in academia too – one I have single-handedly STOPPED perpetuating. FUCK PATRIARCHY. Down with “because this is the way we’ve always done it!” )

Maybe doctors and patients SHOULD be more to each other if there is to be TRUE HEALING. And maybe wanting that – wanting the words “I love you” to be HEALING WORDS – AND NOT JUST for romance or throwaway – maybe that’s something I SHOULD feel proud of and not silly about. (No- I never told any doctors that I promise. But I have had a therapist say it TO ME – and it was the MOST RESTORATIVE AND HEALING BALM ON MY SOUL.)

I WISH THE WORLD COULD SAY IT AND MEAN IT AND HEAR IT. I feel so sad for our world right now. I feel our world is broken hearted and the weight of it is hurting all of us, making us sicker than we NEED to be.

And that is hard to deal with. It is CONFUSING for patients who are long term sick – for people like ME who have nothing but illness – long stretches of chronic illness – who form RELATIONSHIPS with doctors but then really- their doctors don’t truly LOVE US. It is confusing too – to have FAMILY who love us – but will NEVER TRULY UNDERSTAND US. And friends who we pick based on our illnesses… sick friends, healthy friends, and our “grey area friends” (the friends we don’t tell… the don’t ask don’t tell friends).

And suddenly tonight – I felt healed – even just a bit. Because someone else heard my story and she too HAD LIVED IT. And I felt humbled and grateful and happy about it.

I decided to share that with you. I don’t expect you to understand all of it- but I do know that we all struggle. We just do. We all heal through our stories. And right now I am moving home because of finances and sickness that won’t f***ing go away. And I want it to be temporary- but it keeps slamming and slamming into me. And I can stiff upper all I want and joke all I want – but PRETENDING that I’m strong is getting the best of me.

Tonight- I healed because I admitted to someone that I was weak. And she admitted it too. And together we shared our fears and our pain. And the funny thing is – NO ONE WOULD HAVE EVER KNOWN IT ABOUT HER.

So I’m sharing my weakness with you, my stories with you, my soul with you – on the chance that you too might feel healed by it. All of us have a time when it is just too much. All of us feel fake, feel exhausted, feel like it is TOO MUCH. We feel like our friends will find us “attention whores” if we have even ONE MORE DOCTOR VISIT or one more hospitalization or ONE MORE POSITIVE CANCER TEST.

And I’m telling you this – let’s collectively heal each other. I needed it tonight. I’ve got your back.

So tell me what heals you? What balms your soul? Do you need to be told “I love you?” Do you want REAL relationships with people? Am I sharting up the wrong tree? Tonight feels so healing to me I felt like sharing. And in sharing I hope you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

I’ll be seeing you next week! Same time same place! Kisses!