As I was fortunate to have family to support me, some of my friends really struggled with the changes to the availability and the attentiveness I was able to give them. My friends while I was still in Alaska were discouraged that I would no longer have “get-together’s” even if to just hang around a fire and chat. Nor would I go to their homes. My time was consumed with just trying to keep myself from collapsing with exhaustion or to focus on trying to think straight due to the extreme pain, lack of sleep and probably from side effects of the meds.
When I came home to NY, I no longer would let many know I was actually coming home as I would feel obligated to spend time with them and then fear I would need to back out because I just couldn’t do it. I was back in NY for some time before many even knew I was back. My best friend for years took a week of vacation to spend with me. It happened to coincide with the time my household goods were delivered. So as many are likely aware, it can be a stressful time. Did we actually receive ALL of our household goods and was anything damaged.
My best friend, another military spouse was willing to spend her vacation with me unpacking my stuff. We worked well together. At the time she gave no indication as to her noticing differences in me. We discussed my health, about how I felt with the loss of my abilities. I struggled with key words, even memories. I was constantly tired and in pain. She seemed very understanding. Recently, as in February she admitted to me that she really was seeing me struggle. Struggle with following along in our conversations, organization, and coordination as well my energy to go, go, and go. Something she and I always did when we spent time together.
Admittedly, I was caught off guard that she would now almost four years later sharing this with me. But she stated she didn’t say anything before because she could tell I was struggling and didn’t want to add any unnecessary stress. I was grateful for that. First, for not contributing to my struggles then and now for being honest with me to share her feelings with me as it pertained to the changing Renee. She has learned to kind of play it by ear. We make plans but they may not always pan out. And I’m thankful for that.
As far as my other friends, most of them high school classmates at home in NY. We chat via Facebook, but usually only get together once a year. I can’t make commitments and let’s face it, life kind of consumes us and our jobs, household responsibilities and up until recently I was a full time college student; so I had little free time. Some of my friends have other invisible illnesses so they understand and struggle with the same things I do. So I have changed.
I’ve changed in the way that I no longer spend lots of time with friends. That time spent used to be consumed with: chatting over coffee, dinner, dancing and even volunteering at events in the community. Now any time spent together is often just for a short visit, about an hour of chit-chat. I can no longer make commitments to volunteering. If I feel well that day, I will participate but I have learned that not making those commitments is better for all. In the sense that I won’t push myself to go to an event and be miserable for days after or that others aren’t relying on my and I don’t show. Although some of you may begin to understand the NEW Renee, but there is more just about me. I will share with you on that topic next time.