I worry I’m not a good friend anymore. It’s something I’ve always prided myself on. Being a stalwart companion. Loyal to a fault (found out later, this is a hallmark of codependency - staying in situations that are harmful for too long but that’s not what this post is about!). I didn’t pair off, so my friendships have always meant the world to me. I ADORE MY FRIENDS. They are my family.
I want to treat them so well!
Now? I forget things. I never know how I will feel the days I’m going to hang out with them. I try to stay on top of my correspondence but as I share more of my medical story and my inbox grows, I’m concerned this will get more and more difficult to do. Corresponding is actually quite taxing, especially these days.. I’m trying to figure out a way to have someone help me with all that. The healthy side of me knows I could be missing important medical advice. The unhealthy codependent side of me is more worried I’m upsetting people by not writing them back!
I’m under such pressure right now. I have to make the right decisions at the right time or…I won’t make it. It’s a pressure I don’t wish upon anyone (ok, ok, I WOULD wish this upon Mitch McConnell..grrrrrrrrrr, what a dream it would be to take THAT man down).
How do I juggle fighting for the IV nutrients that I desperately need while also researching out-of-state hospital to travel to next? How do I manage ANY of this while eating so little and feeling so much pain? How do I know which doctors I can trust? How do I know I’m making the right decision that will keep me alive and not cripple me more?
The pain…oh my gosh it is a humbling experience to feel tremendous pain. I work so hard to minimize it, I do so much and it doesn’t always work. It makes me so much more empathetic for others who feel a lot of pain. This is why I would never endorse physical ANYTHING when it comes to activism. It’s so barbaric.
I can see why pain can make the mind break, that’s for sure. It changes the landscape of the mind. It’s changed my personality. I can’t afford to be as warm and fuzzy as I used to be. I don’t have the luxury of living like an able-bodied person anymore. I have to be tougher and more careful about how I spend my time and who I spend my time with. If they can’t be considerate of my situation, then it’s toxic for my body.
This body is already so wrecked. Inconsiderate people don’t even realize how toxic their behavior can be for a fragile organism like mine. I feel so bad that I didn’t understand this what people of color feel in white spaces. It’s maddening when people say stupid shit, or don’t think about anyone else’s feelings but their own.
My goodness, was our country always this way? Always worried about our OWN feelings more than others?
Or is it just more noticeable now? I apologize to anyone that I’ve been inconsiderate to! Or, not honored your feelings! Or been a shitty friend in some way. I am so so sorry. Like I said, the idea that I could be causing someone else pain now causes ME pain.
Thankfully, I have some pretty awesome people around me that are teaching me how to set boundaries, how to honor my body. The friends that help me advocate for myself at a restaurant, or remind me to drink my lemonade, or ask me if I need to go to the bathroom before moving venues - I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! THANK YOU!
I feel so lucky that I have such a lovely crew of people around me and more and more awesomely nurturing and supportive people keep showing up. It’s a funny thing when we start accepting ourselves and creating stronger boundaries, how things start to evolve into healthier relationships.
It does worry me, however, that I’m not able to be as good of friend in this new life as before. But maybe i actually WASN’T such a great friend in the sense that I wasn’t always being true to myself and becoming resentful later. Or, I didn’t create good enough boundaries and then lashed out when it got too much for me. I’ve always leaned toward self-involved. Now, I’m AWARE of that, but being a chronically ill person kind of forces a person to be self-involved. It sucks but it’s what I’m dealing with. I just hope people know to not take it personally when a sick person is unpredictable.
It’s such a struggle to learn how to create better boundaries - both internal and external. I haven’t spoken much about codependency - mostly because I’m still trying to figure out so many things and I don’t want to give out misinformation. (You can learn more about codependency here - not everyone that is codependent will have every single one of these patterns but they’ll definitely feel like a lot of these patterns accurately describe them!) But boundaries is a huge thing in codependency - and I’m learning - in all relationships. If we can’t create healthy boundaries, then the whole relationship will struggle.
This is why I’m excited to share my next podcast on the kink community. It’s ALL about communicating and setting boundaries. I’m working on a Consent episode too!
I’ve been such a people pleaser my whole life. I can feel what other people are expecting or need - which can be a wonderful thing when you’re a teacher of young kids or helping raise them in some way. It makes me empathetic and gives me the ability to quickly connect with others, even if they are very different than me.
But this aspect of my personality also puts me at risk for giving too much of myself away. Or, I don’t know, putting my health secondary to helping America! Just to give a random example.
i can’t do that anymore. I’m not well these days. I have to be so careful about every bit of energy I use. I’m ingesting MAYBE 800 calories on average per day (some days more, too many days less) which means I have to conserve all energy. I’m still too casual with my energy. I struggle to tamp down on what I can and can not get away with doing. 800 calories doesn’t allow for much when so much of that has to go into doctor phone calls and stretching and advocating and spreadsheets and and and….
Moving forward, I have to put all my energy now into figuring out how to stay alive. A therapist that specialized in codependency used to say “codependency can kill!” and I’ll be honest, I thought he was exaggerating.
I don’t think it’s a joke anymore. Maybe not everything I’m doing has to do with codependency. Maybe some of it is just my personality. Maybe it’s being a woman. Maybe it’s being a Spanish Jew. Who the hell knows?
The bottom line is: I can’t be flippant anymore about where I extend my energy. The people who truly care about me will understand and respect this. And the ones who don’t? They will slip away. Which isn’t always easy for me. The reason I still have such a large network of people I’ve known for years is because I hang on tight! But I understand if the new me is someone they feel they don’t recognize anymore. I get it. If they need to walk away, they need to walk away. I have to honor that.
Sometimes I don’t recognize myself. I walk by a mirror and I see this small-framed woman (where is my ASS? who would have thought I’d be so bummed to lose it!) with a mohawk and an IV bag attached to her and I’m like: WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?
Eeeks! That is ME now.
It’s interesting which friends are totally cool coming to my neck of the woods. And which ones expect me to go to them. That says so much right there.
I’m truly grateful for the people who have stuck around during what I HOPE will be a time that is the lowest point of my life. I’m so vulnerable these days. It’s terrifying to feel like I can’t make it through this medical system, or drive on the roads, or navigate the government benefits or find the right medical experts WITHOUT HELP FROM OTHERS.
Ya see, on that patterns list, I’m the one that thinks I can do everything myself. That’s why I never looked at the codependency self-help books all these years! I’m not dependent on anyone or anything, I’d think to myself.
I’m an independent woman that can take care of myself.
It’s not easy at all for me to come to grips with the fact that I’m not longer independent. That I keep dreaming of work projects that may never happen because I’ll be too sick, or not around at all.
I have to accept reality, as hard as it is to do. I see so much denial around me. That same codependency counselor said: as you get healthier, everyone around you will appear sicker and sicker.
It’s not an easy road, recovery, healing, chronic illness, cancer survivor, disabled. I do feel compassion for people who are struggling through their stuff. It’s not easy to do the healthy thing these days. It’s not easy to want to do things, but know they are ultimately bad for me. It’s not easy to let go of the people who don’t support my health and recovery.
But it’s what I have to do in order to survive.
Survival is a bitch. And I’m one of the luckiest of the bunch. It’s still a bitch.
I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep podcasting. I’ll keep hollering.
It’s who I am. That will never change! I’ll always use my Voice, until the very last day of my life.
I’m so so grateful for the people who support me getting healthy. So grateful.
Here’s to good health, both physical and mental.
May we all find our way to both of them.