Chronic Snarkopolist: The Holidays and Chronic Illness, What A Joy
Hello my loves. A new year is quickly approaching. The holiday season marches on.
It is complex these times. Many memories mix with memories of sadness, others with promises of renewal and hope. Some reflections of the past, tinge with sadness and grief; some with joy. To live is to experience these in abundance.
Life is complex in some areas and so simple in others. Everyone has stories. Everyone has loss and pain. Everyone has joy and happiness. When dealing with chronic illness it is to explore these with more complexity.
I keep remembering that many people will hold special memories now. Some will have more pain and loss. And some will have more joy now. And many will forget that we all have personal memories. Many will forget that we all walk in this world. Some people are just self absorbed.
A friend and his wife just had a holiday party at their apartment complex to get to know their neighbors and no one came. They felt bad. I saw it as a sign that no one wanted to show up and feel stupid and foolish. No one wanted to reach out. It is hard to open up. It is difficult to remember that we are not isolated and we need each other. People are often selfish unless they are taught or reminded otherwise.
I used to think I didn’t need any more friends until I realized who and what friends were. What surrounded me were people who enjoyed my sense of humor and wit. But they were not friends. As my life changed and my health deteriorated and my marriage crumbled, I saw who my friends were. It was then that I realized how important it is to invest in real relationships.
My friend Vi once passed on the amazing wisdom of her fiancé. He said to her, “Spend time returning the calls of the friends who call you. Stop calling the people who don’t answer the phone.”
That advice sounds so simple. But when I stop to think about it I realize that we all secretly believe that the people who run away from us are more valuable than the people who are RIGHT THERE in front of us. Somehow we lie to ourselves! We tell ourselves that the people who are hard to reach are valuable diamonds and the people who are there for us through the thick of it are cheapened because they are too easy to access. This is also known as “the nice guy phenomena”. Why do we reach for the diamonds? In reality they are false zirconium. The people right there calling us and engaging actively in our lives are the people who are our real investments. Those are our friends.
Friends are different. Some cannot handle tears but can clean a cat box. Some can teach me to cook gluten free but cannot handle the sight of blood. I have learned over the years not to question friendship but to accept that real friends show up time and time again. My dear friends have not cared if I gained weight from the drugs I was on or if my mood was unstable (as long as I apologized later and behaved better). My real friends have been in my life for various amounts of time but all of them have accepted me and I them. They have called me, loved me, propped me up, and accepted the love I have given to them.
The new year and holidays are certainly bringing some sad memories and pain to some. And for those of you who are sad, I want to tell you I’m sorry. It sucks to be sad and sick. It sucks to deal with the additional pain of illness and sad memories. I’ve heard too many painful stories to imagine it is not here too. If you need any help it is out there and I can give you a contact. Just ask.
If you are happy now, I’m happy for you. Gather these joyful times and hold them. Let them bolster you. We all deserve to have special memories. There can be both joy and sadness. And you should never feel guilty for the joy you are feeling even if others are not happy. I have had lovely joyful times during the holidays. It is OK to have good days, good times, and still be ill. You are allowed to have good days. You are allowed to have happiness. I’m giving you plenty of permission!
What do you think? Is it more difficult to be chronically ill during the holidays? Do people chastise you not to be down or unhappy now? Do you feel guilty for being happy around people who are not well? Do you feel pressured? Are you reliving painful times? Do you have mixed bitter sweet right now? Are the holidays more difficult when you are chronically ill? Tell me! I must know!
I’ll be back same time next week! Kiss kiss!
Tags: Chronic Autoimmune Conditions, chronic cancers, chronic conditions, chronic conditions column, chronic conditions support, chronic diagnoses, chronic illness during the holidays, chronic illness support, managing chronic illness over the holidays