Chronic Marriage is one of my favorite blogs to follow. It’s one of only two (that I know of) that focus on what it’s like to deal with chronic illness within a marriage. Not long ago she shared a post about “Why Friendships are Important to Your Marriage“. There were a couple of statements she made that really caught my attention.
“When we live with chronic illness, many of us tend to pull back and isolate ourselves. While resting and giving ourselves time to recover from pain is important, so is not making isolation a way of life.
Too many times though, we’re convinced we make for lousy company and that we’re better off alone; alone that is except for the company of our spouse. “
Yup. That about covers it. Honestly, there are times that I would pull back and isolate myself even from my spouse. The only reason I allowed his company was because he lives here. Even so, during my worst days there were so many nights where he’d come home and I’d tell him he should really go out and play pool, or do something, anything so that he did not have to be here, looking at me, worrying about me. I didn’t want people asking me how I was (I was tired of giving the same answers), touching me (that hurt), or worrying about me. At least I didn’t want to have to think about them worrying about me.
The truth was that I needed him, but I needed others, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have anyone I felt like I could call on to be there for me in the way that I needed. I felt like anyone that was around would just be negatively affected by how I looked and felt, and that would just make me feel worse. There were a few times where my mom came over and just sat with me and watched TV, just held me (when she could). But, that made me feel bad (guilty), too. Because, I was making her hurt, and she had enough on her plate already.
Once I improved enough that I felt like getting out occasionally, I finally did reach out to a couple of friends. One or two were great and I could sit and talk to them. They were ill, too. And we could talk about our illnesses, or random life, or nothing at all. There were others that I realized I didn’t need to spend time around, because their negativity affected me negatively. I found that I had new priorities in choosing friends. That it’s important to choose them wisely. But, most importantly, I found that spending time with good friends makes a huge different in how I feel. I need that time with friends to recharge, to feel better mentally and emotionally. I need that connection with someone other than my husband and my mom (who is one of my best friends). We all need that. Social media gives us some of that, and allows us to make friends with people we will never meet in person. But, there is something different about one on one social time with real friends in person. It provides us with a connection to the world (and to ourselves) that we can’t get in any other way. These days I have a few more friends that I know I can call on when I need someone to talk to, or just someone to spend time with (and I hope they know that I will be there for them, as well). I don’t spend as much time with them all as I would like, but I try to spend time with friends at least once a week.
What about you? Have you had to adjust some of your friendships due to chronic illness? Do you make time for a few solid friends?