Them: “Hey you want to go on (fill in the blank here) trip with us?
Me: “Uh, I don’t think I can.”
Them: ” Oh come on, you know you want to.”
Me thinking: Sure I want to but there is no way I can do that physically it would just be way to much. What to I say? Do I say I can’t because it will be too exhausting? Then they will probably tell me I should just go to bed early and the problem will be solved. How do I convince them to let it go but still include me next time?
This is a not infrequent scenario on my life. When I meet new people I never know when to come out of the chronic illness closet. At the beginning of the relationship it feels awkward to just announce it, but as a relationship heads toward friendship I can never find the right moment. Discussing illness is difficult and as a private person I am always trying to find the right balance. This is not made easier by the fact that on the outside I look completely normal. I am often in unbearable pain but I am great at putting on my game face and hiding it. Someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time with me might think I live a normal life. Even someone who spends a lot of time with me but always in a place where I have my game face on would not be able to see my disability.
As my relationships develop at some point people start to notice that I tend to flake out a lot and that I’m hesitant to make commitments. I can look unreliable which is actually the complete opposite of my personality. I hate looking like a flake so I do want to explain what is going on. At the same time I know that few people can really comprehend why I flake out so much which makes me wonder if there is any point in making myself vulnerable. Despite that feeling, there are a few lessons I’ve learned through hard experience along the way:
- There is no magic point in a relationship to reveal your disease
- Give your friends a chance. They deserve a chance to help you and to try to understand.
- Be willing to be vulnerable. “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known.” Brene Brown
Will you regret it? Possibly, I have on occasion, but on other occasions my friendships have become deeper and more meaningful because I was willing to show my true self.