Sometimes you wake up and think it’s going to be a great day, and it isn’t. Sunday was that kind of day for me.
First thing I cuddled with hubby when I woke and had a silly dog jumping on us all excited and playing, so waking up was loving and fun. Soon that changed.
I’m not sure what the first thing was but the day became full of petty little arguments and bad feelings. We would disagree, apologize then something else would happen and we’d disagree again, or we were just very short with each other. I know I spent most of the day in a huff, or tears.
I tried to talk about what was discussed in my last therapy session….loss….and I got very emotional (read sobbing like a baby). He did not react like I wanted. Notice what I said, I felt he was in the wrong because he didn’t behave like I wanted, like I expected him to. So who’s at fault there? I think that would be me. We aren’t hurt by people, we are hurt by our expectations of people. And I think that is how the rest of day kind of played out. We didn’t act the way the other person wanted, or expected and that caused bad feelings.
This can happen with anyone. If I admit it, that is what happened when I felt abandoned by my friends when I got sick. I was so hurt, so angry, they didn’t react the way I expected. This caused all my unhappiness. That is why I was so hurt. My friends did not react the way I expected. What did I expect? Visits, talks, help, I expected this and more. People aren’t always going to do what we expect. It doesn’t make them bad people. We don’t know the reasons. Perhaps my illness brought back bad memories, or fear over their own health, Some people simply don’t know how to be a friend during these times or they don’t really want to be. We have to accept this. More than anything we need to understand that the hurt comes from our expectations, not from the people. Does that make it hurt less? Sometimes. When a person I’ve loved for years and years disappeared after I got sick, it hurt. It hurts more when I know I was there for the person when they needed me. However, their need ended, there is no end in sight for my needs. I will always be different than I used to be. That’s a hard thing for any relationship to endure. We loose relationships for a number of reasons, we fight, we move, we change jobs…. Not all relationships stay in our lives. Things change. We can look at friends we’ve lost since our illness took hold and think, “they showed their true colors”, “they weren’t real friends”… The truth is, they aren’t what we expected them to be and it is that expectation that causes us pain.
I can hear some of you saying, “They abandoned me, shouldn’t I be hurt?” I’m not saying it won’t hurt, what I’m saying is, we often bring more hurt upon ourselves than is needed. We have to let it go. Did the fact that they are no longer in our lives negate all the good times we had? I hope not. It changes how we will interact with them in the future. We’ve changed, they have changed, the relationship changed. That change may be that it is over. It may be that the relationship becomes something different from what it was before, we have to decide if it is worth it. We can have bad feelings about this, but it is our decision whether to hold on to these feelings or let them go. I try hard to let them go, to find equanimity. Do I always succeed? NO. Sometimes the hurt comes back to the surface, I think that’s a part of grief. But now I can sit back and think, why is this bothering me so much? I always come back to the same thing, I want it to be different than it is. My wants are causing me harm.
Not everyone has to understand what I’m going through, and not everyone has to be there for me. It is a great feat to be able to accept a person for how they are, even when they let you down. I’ve decided to let go of the past relationships that didn’t work. I work on relationships with people who understand my limitations and are willing to work on our relationship the way it is now. I don’t have many friends from before. I have made a number of friends on-line since I’ve gotten sick, and lost my hearing. Due to my limitations, I haven’t been able to make friends outside of the house, maybe that will happen in the future, but I’m okay with that. I will continue to nurture the relationships I have and focus on these things.
When I got sick most of my friends were starting a family. I had many friends who were pregnant at the same time the year before I got really sick. Keeping up with me kind of went by the wayside. They had a new life, one that would have been new if I were sick or not. Our friendships would have changed. Would they have survived if I hadn’t gotten sick? Probably, at least for longer than they did. Things changed. I could no longer nurture the relationships the way I had before, my friends couldn’t find a way to bend to my new limitations. Is there hard feelings? I’d lie if I said they aren’t ever there, but for the most part, I’ve found peace with this. Realizing that my pain comes from me, makes it easier to have equanimity in this situation.
Something else I noticed, when I tried to attend a few gatherings with my friends after I’d been sick for a while, I realized, I had nothing to say. I used to be a social butterfly, always being able to have conversations with anyone. After getting sick my world shrank, I rarely go out other than go to the doctors. My friends still worked, ran around with their kids, and had rich social lives; my life revolves around my health. That doesn’t give us much to talk about. I wanted to hear all about their lives, but I had nothing to contribute to the conversations. I was uncomfortable, and I made others uncomfortable. Conversations were forced. We had changed. The fact that our friendships didn’t survive doesn’t mean either of us are bad people, we grew apart, as many people do. When you become chronically ill to the point that your life changes so dramatically, it forces all of your relationships to change in a very short period of time. Suddenly I didn’t have hardly anything in common with my core group of friends. Normally if relationships change it takes time, If you lose a relationship it doesn’t normally come in a mass exodus. That is exactly what happens to many who are chronically ill. We don’t see this as a natural progression in a relationship, we see this as abandonment. It hurts much more than when you lose one friend because of something, you are suddenly losing many friends. When I realized things change no matter what, and I will never know just how they would have changed without me getting sick, it helps me accept these things.
I realize now how much relationships change no matter what, and how much we need to nurture a relationship to keep it alive. I hope this helps me to be a better friend and find compassion for others and myself when dealing with changing relationships.