Nor does someone who lives with a chronic illness. I mean, sure, we forget to take our tablets, we forget to eat, we don’t ever know what day it is and we never, ever remove a load of washing from the machine the first time round. But we will always remember who was there for us… and who wasn’t.
Yes, I have the most amazing support network in the form of friends, family and colleagues. Most people will occasionally check in, which is nice and feels very normal. A couple of people go out of their way to see me, which is really, super lovely – I have one cakey bakey friend who genuinely works on the basis that she comes to see me and doesn’t mind if I’m smelly or my house is a bomb site. I also have one friend who comes over and trims my hair for me! But… There are also people who prefer to have nothing to do with me. Y’know, people who have been happy to accept my support in the past. The same people who I have actively included in activities when they were feeling down or people who have stayed at mine when they have had a fight with their partner… Those ones.
I know that everyone has their own life and their own battles that I know nothing about. But I can’t help but be aware of the “friends” who never strike up a conversation with me any more. They don’t call, they don’t text and they don’t initiate a conversation on messenger. Nada. I used to think that they just didn’t know what to say, but that’s not true. I’m not easy to offend, especially when it’s clear that intentions were good. I’m the first one to laugh at myself and my lousy situation – I’ve always been this way. If they don’t know what to say, it’s because they have serious hang ups regarding illness and disability. I’m not contagious. Having a cup of tea with me will not make you into a cripple.
I’m frequently surprised by the awesome support I receive from fellow spoonies and bloggers online. I have been left speechless by the support shown by old high-school acquaintances – not even people I was particularly friendly with as a kid. New friends who have only ever known sick me have been equally brilliant. I’ve been shown constant support from colleagues – who initially would have been (rightfully) the most disgruntled by my constant illness. But I just can’t get rid of the sinking feeling of disappointment that comes when I look back and see that I’ve heard nothing from a “good friend” in over six months – and even then, it was me striking up the conversations.
I know that friends come and go through life, but I wasn’t quite prepared for a mass exodus. Slowly, it bothers me less and less… But it still hurts because I always put a lot of effort into being a good friend to these people. It stings that in my hour of need, that kindness is not reciprocated.