Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friendship and Illness

I must have rewritten the email ten times.

It took me countless attempts and tears; I was anxious, afraid of saying all the wrong things and being rejected. I wished I could just hide and never have to tell anyone my horrible secret ever again because I'm just so embarrassed at being sick, at being weak, that I would almost rather alienate myself completely from everyone who "knew me when" than have to face their pitying or disbelieving looks. Or to have another person fade away, having apparently decided that a relationship with me is too difficult.

I came across some old pictures of my group of friends from middle school, so I scanned them in and emailed them out. One of the girls, the one I was closest to back then, emailed me back and suggested we meet up. I think she knew about my chronic migraines already, I saw her briefly when they first started, but while working out how we were going to rendez-vous, I realized I was going to have to come clean about how sick I am.

It just filled me with panic. I feel so ashamed, like I'm back at the beginning of getting sick where I think it's all my fault and wish I could wish it all away, so instead of anything productive, wishing becomes a huge distraction. I'd start writing the email, crumple into tears and wishes, and close the window without replying. Again. It took me a while to finally compose a simple message, and when I finally sent it, my anxiety only increased.

How would she receive it? Would she think I was a liar?* Would she never write back and tell all of our old friends that I'm a freak? Am I back in high school or am I a 34 year old woman who's been dealing with chronic illness for over six years? Back in high school, then? Well, I guess bring on the anxiety.

*Okay, if she thinks I'm a liar, she's an asshole and I don't want to be friends with her anyway, but still. Not to be believed by someone you love, or once loved, it hurts more any migraine. I'll never get used to that pain, and I think it actually hurts worse every time it happens.

So, maybe she'll be like, "Whatev, I'll just accommodate her and we'll hang and be bffs 4 eva." Or maybe she'll go, "Huh, steph is clearly a big weirdo now and I'll have to think on this." Or maybe I'll never hear from her again.

If migraines have taught me nothing else, I know that as creatures in this vast universe, we aren't entitled to a damn thing in our lives. Friendship, health, food, freedom - so much of it is luck, it can be terrifying and lonely to realize how vulnerable we all are. But I don't have a choice, I hunger for food and for friendship, so I have to keep searching them out, no matter how starved I become or how toxic it all seems, I know there are nourishing relationships still to be had, and have them I will.


Migrainista said...

SO proud of you for sending out the email and still fighting for friendships :) I hope you get a positive response from this friend.