Guilt

Let me just put it out there: I have some of the best friends in the world. And while there’s countless reasons behind this statement, there’s one in particular that holds true, especially as of late.

No matter how many times I’ve uttered the phrase,”I’m sick” in the past few months, my friends have never grown sick of me. The test of genuine friendship is the people who stand by you, regardless of your tiring excuses, spontaneous cancelling of plans and unpredictable state of health. It’s the people who trust you are there for them, even when you’re not at your best.

I still remember the first time I felt that certain type of guilt—the kind where you feel as though you’re a burden to others because of your disease.

One of my sister’s friends was having a party, and I was so excited to have been invited, much less to have been attending. I tried my hardest to mingle with the seemingly cooler, older crowd, unaware of how a few bites of food and sips of alcohol would affect me. Several appetizers and a cocktail later, the room started to spin (and not for the reasons most would suspect). Suddenly, I felt as though someone had lit a match to my insides, with the pain in my lower abdomen forcing me to sit down. Then, the intense nausea hit. It was to the point where I was sweating and turning red in the face, just to keep myself from getting sick to my stomach. As soon as I spotted a couch, I planted myself on it, laying horizontally across in hopes of making it all go away. And eventually it did…two hours later. In the mean time, groups of people came up to me, sympathetically asking what was wrong. Out of embarrassment and shame, I came up with the most plausible excuse I could.

In years to follow, the same pattern continued, with slightly different situations each time. I can’t even count the amount of times I have left a restaurant from an unexpected reaction to something I ate. Or the dates I have literally walked out on due to an upset stomach. Or the birthdays, meetings or important events I have missed because I’m just not feeling good.

I can’t express in words the gratitude I feel for those who have never questioned, but rather supported me during those rough patches. These past few months have been undeniably stressful, and it’s taken a visible toll on my health. Yet, I look around, and the same great people are still there.

While my post today is dedicated to my friends, my family also deserves credit for their constant love and support. I’ve come to accept the fact that my sickness related guilt may never go away, but I certainly feel better knowing I’m alone in my thoughts.

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