Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Friendship for me is a sensitive subject. I have a small tribe consisting of friends that I hold near and dear to my heart. Friends who have been there for me when I have been ill, frightened, anxious, and simply... dramatic. Friends who have reassured me that even though I am a hot mess, I am not as broken as I think. These brave souls are the ones who make jokes with me about my brain falling out of my head and named my cysts, “Thelma and Louise." They are my people, my favorite humans, and I don't know that I would have made it through the last several years without them.
It is important to bring attention to the fact that friendships can be difficult to maintain when you have a chronic illness and are always experiencing some level of discomfort. This is true for me, and many others. When you find people who understand that you are not always able to join them for lunch or shopping trips because you are physically and mentally exhausted, you need to hold onto them. Having friends you can go months without speaking to, and when you finally connect being able to pick up where you left off, those are great friends. When you can text your person and say, "I think I am either dying, or anxious," and an hour later you are sitting at lunch with that same person who is ready to help get you out of your own head....that is the friend you know you can count on. I feel blessed to know I have all of this and more within my tribe.
What I have found that I don't need at this time in my life are toxic friendships. From my own experience these are relationships with those that are unable to recognize when I am hurting and who seem to be inconvenienced when I am the one in need of support. "Friends" who become distant when you are not able to meet their needs. I am all for being an emotional support system for the people in my life. I think that is the social worker part of my brain. I am an empath after all, through and through. When anyone, especially my friends and family are hurting I feel their pain and want nothing more than to ease their troubles. This often leaves me weighed down with severe compassion fatigue and takes away from my own ability to provide my own self-care.
I find it comical how I am able to offer some great advice to others but fall short in my ability to implement said advice into my own life. “Oh, you are feeling anxious, here are some coping strategies...” yet when I am feeling anxious, “Here, let me just lie down on the floor and wait for the good Lord to carry me away." I am trying really hard to do better with this and a first step has been removing toxic people from my life, regardless of how we are connected. I have so much to offer as a friend despite my inability to always show up. I hope to maintain the positive connections I have made over the years while continuing to build even more positive relationships amidst all of my struggles. Let this be a shout out to my tribe. You are my rock-stars!