This week I've lost two friends. Well, 'friends'. And well, the truth is never as black and white as when we first write it. One of these 'friends' was never really a friend, and I had no idea until she ended our friendship over email for no particular reason that she could state, but then, in retrospect, I realized that she had never really seen me. The other 'friend' was never really a friend and I knew it and have known it for a year and a half. I did get a little tricked though, because when I would tell her I was waiting for her to show up as an actual friend, she would tell me she never had been good at showing up for other people and would change...really she would. She didn't.
So what's my point? My point is, I think both these people could not handle my being chronically ill.
Upon being 'broken up with' by my friend over email, I posted some statuses on FB about being sick and losing friends. The responses from people who go through the same thing were many. I realized just how prevalent it is for us who are chronically ill to get abandoned, and often to get attacked as we get abandoned. Is this me self-pitying me and all the rest of us? No. This is me noticing a pattern, a very real pattern. This is me acknowledging it and speaking about it. This is me feeling like it is deeply important.
We talk about spreading awareness. I think this is an important part of what we go through. Yes we go through pain, tremendous pain in fact. Yes we go through surgeries, loss of bodily functions, loss of mind and sanity. Yes we go through environmental sensitivity which isolates us from others and from community. And YES, while we go through all this, we also go through being attacked and abandoned by those people who we thought truly loved us.
There are a string of answers and questions I've been asking myself. Why do people abandon sick people? Because they are afraid. Why are they afraid? Because they don't want to be reminded of how fragile life is or look their own mortality in the face. Why don't they want to be reminded?
That last question was a bit tough. In the end I came up with this: Because our society teaches us not to want to be reminded. Our society teaches us that what is of supreme importance is working and making money and spending that money. If one is sick, one can't do that, so our society goes so far as to teach us to pretend we are not sick, when in fact we are, so that we can keep on working and making money and spending that money. Our society teaches us that sick people who can't be diagnosed aren't to be trusted and are probably just lazy or depressed or users. On the other hand, there is what society does not teach us. Our society does not teach us to really listen to each other, and to believe each other. Our society does not teach us to love, to have compassion, to help. Thus, when we become sick, those around us are hit twofold. On one hand they have been taught to tell us that we are not really sick and to deny, deny, deny. On the other hand, they have not been taught how to be humanitarian towards anyone, let alone someone suffering. Thus, they leave. They leave because they do not have the tools to stay.
I am interested to know what anyone else thinks about this.
Side note: There are individuals in my life who are not sick, do not have Lyme, and yet they stay. These people do exist. Unfortunately, they are few, and those who leave are many. Fortunately, each one of them is worth about one hundred of the others. But actually, I don't think it's fair to even compare them. For that would mean that my 20 amazing friendships would be equal to 2,000 terrible friendships, but that is not the case. 2,000 terrible friends is actually equal to having no friends at all. So, I am blessed, and yes, sometimes I forget that, especially when one of the amazing friends turns out to be a terrible friend, but my forgetting does not alter the truth. The truth remains...I am blessed.