Chronic illness changes you in more ways then anyone could imagine. Not only does it change you profoundly, it changes your relationships, your friendships, your interest and how you have fun. Over the years of being chronically ill, I lost something I thought I would never have a problem keeping as a priority in my life. Friends, especially girlfriends.
I have always been an extroverted person who was the life of the party and always had tons of friends. I had close friends, acquaintances, new friends and varied friends circles. I could always call on someone and be out having fun and connecting with a friend.
I am not totally sure what happened, but I do know that I lost 6 of my best and closest girlfriends through my journey with illness. Now before you jump to conclusions and say that they were not a true friends to begin with and that is why they walked away, know that every relationship is much more complicated than what it seems on the outside, and though I mourn the loss if the friendship, I accept it.
It is a natural course of events that as we go through life our relationships change. Sure I had already started maybe losing some girlfriends because they went on to become mothers and our happy hours were replaced with mommy playdates. I was career driven and still studying non stop for my Architecture Licensing Exams, and everyone else was done with school and enjoying their weekends which also put space between us, but something on a much deeper level shifted when I was sick for years with Lyme disease.
Some girlfriends I lost because of how unhealthy our dynamic was. I created more space between us because I did not feel we had a functional and healthy relationship. I used to be much more of a people pleaser before I got sick. I thought by being like that I would be securing my friendships and was always taking my friends side. I really started to notice how toxic this dynamic was and if I started trying to set healthy boundaries with these specific friends, they would be very hurtful and mean to me and even became nasty.
With this realization I started to put more space between us and would continue to notice this dynamic more clearly than ever with our limited interactions. I unfortunately lost 2 friends this way and I continue to grieve the loss of our relationship, even though I know it was not serving me.
Some girlfriends I am not quite sure how I lost. One day they just stopped talking to me or replying to my messages and even un-friended me. These are friends again I went above and beyond trying to keep happy and always doing something for. When I was very sick and mostly bedridden I didn’t do much. On the rare occasions I had good days, I always tried to do something with my friends. I constantly think about what went wrong, and why they didn’t feel they could talk to me about what went wrong. I wonder why they just walked away and abandoned me. I tried reaching out several times with no reply. I know I was going through very hard times with no end in sight, but that is when you need your friends the most. That put an extra layer of pain on these losses but if they could not be there in my darkest times, I guess they were not really my friend after all.
Then there are the girlfriends that just drifted away. They used to be my BFF’s and we would always talk and always hang out but we grow apart. They get bored of me always being sick or they enter another phase of their life and don’t keep up anymore.
I also think a lot of my friends did not understand what I was going through and could not handle it. I looked fine on the outside, even though I was in bed all the time. I would have good days here and there when people would think I was normal, though I was far from. It was not a visible disease like cancer which people seem to have more compassion for. Some did not want to be bothered with how complicated my life had become. They didn’t want to invite me to trips because they thought I wound not be able to eat. Some stopped inviting me to events because they thought I would not want to go. It is hurtful that people didn’t still include me and give me the choice to make these decisions for myself instead of making them for me.
I am thankful for the friends that did stick around and are still a part of my life. Clearing out these toxic relationships has also made room for new friendships to grow and blossom. It is hard to make friends in your 30s but I try to meet people and socialize as much as I can because having a good community is so healing for life.
This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you, which helps keep this content free. I only promote products I trust and use myself. Please see Disclosure Policy for more details.