Loss of Relationships Due to Chronic Illness
I’m so grateful for the 4 years of postpartum depression hell I survived because it prepped me for battling Lyme Disease now. I’ve already lost friends, had people deny my diagnosis, blame me for my illness, talk behind my back and in front of my face.
I lost close friends and even family members who blamed me for abandoning my child when I chose to go to my third mental hospital rather than die by suicide. Guess they’d never heard of the Oxygen Mask Theory.
So when I ended up bedridden again I wasn’t afraid of what would happen because I knew what to expect when I got sick. And for a while it went as planned. One of my family members found a reason to cut ties with me just like last time. Several people didn’t believe I was really sick, including my therapist.
But then it stopped. The landslide of judgment, condemnation and shame never came down on me like last time.
Everything just got quiet. Down to a whisper. Down to the faint purr of my cat, Bagel, nuzzled in my arms. Down to the soft breathing of my son, asleep after a long day of drawing monsters.
And since then, life has been softer. Sweeter. And I feel loved. Friends from 20 years ago to friends I met 2 weeks ago have brought me meals, laughter and stories. My mom came down from Tahoe to help out. I’ve embraced being temporarily disabled and have had the courage to ask for help.
I even had a 12-step meeting brought to my small apartment and it was delicious.
This time has been so different. Why? Maybe because I exchanged my quantity of friends for quality after my first illness. Maybe because I joined a 12-step program for codependency 4 years ago and learned how to ask for what I need. Maybe because I simply no longer make time for bullshit.
But since I’ve been honest about where I’m at and willing to detach from the outcome, I’ve realized that when people judge or criticize me because of my illness that’s on them. What they think of me is not my problem, it’s theirs.
Nothing is personal, even though attacks of character certainly feel personal at the time, they truly aren’t about me. When a person sees something they dislike in me, it’s a reflection of something they dislike in themselves or a narrative in their story that hasn’t been worked out yet. No matter what, it’s not about me.
When I stop taking reactions to my current health situation personally, I can be free and freedom brings me closer to healing. There is no hatred of those who harm me, (after the initial sting wears off), because I’m clear that it’s not about me.
99% of things happening right now aren’t about me. Or you. Isn’t that freeing? Why hold onto the harms when we only end up harming ourselves over and over and over.
It was painful enough the first time around. It’s time to let go. This quiet time is not so much about the people who left, but the people who stayed. And about accepting what happened in the past doesn’t have to be repeated unless I choose to repeat it.
And I don’t. I like new chapters. I like moving forward. The mystery is what lies ahead of me, not what’s in the rear view.