Friends

Last week, a documentary aired on the CBC called Sickboy. It's about these guys out east who are best friends, one of whom has cystic fibrosis, and they do a podcast of the same name. The doc and the podcast are both not about health conditions, but what life with illness is like. And they leave NOTHING unsaid - they really get into all the stuff you normally don't talk about and it is the most comforting thing I've come across in ages. I don't know how I missed out on the podcast this long, as it's been running for quite a while now, but I've been enjoying listening to old episodes and getting acquainted.

First some links, and then some thoughts.

 

 

Last week, I wrote this long blathery post about navigating friendship with chronic illness. Then I sat on it for several days. I'm still sitting on it. Something about it didn't quite feel right...

Friendships, or really any relationships, and how they last or don't doesn't actually have much to do with whether you're chronically ill or not. Chronic illness is just one among the many things that can make or break any close relationships - things like going through a breakup, a divorce, a death in the family, a major career change, financial woes, the birth of a child... Anything that shakes you out of your routine and your comfort zone, and pushes you into the unknown, into grief and loss, or the new and unfamiliar. Anything that makes your life afterwards somewhat (or very) unrecognizable.

I've lost a LOT of friends over the past five years. If I started listing them all, I might have a full on self-hate and shame meltdown. ("It must be me!!!!" "What will people think????") It'd be like having a scarlet letter on my sweater - except F for Failed Friend.

The thing is - it is me, not them. Yes, me. My unwillingness to be taken advantage of. My unwillingness for a relationship to be completely on another person's terms. My failing tolerance of my kindness being taken for granted. My finally standing up for myself, and learning that I am worthy enough not to go chasing and pandering after people who don't really care about me the way I deserve.

There are at least a couple people in my life who've recently brought up the topic of nostalgia. It's not just thinking about or idealizing the past though, it's this recognition that there is something they're longing for that isn't present in their lives anymore. 

I feel it too. Sometimes I don't realize it until something twigs this burried memory of a feeling I can rarely tap into anymore.

Pride Parade

Sometimes you feel it in crowds, at a festival or a concert. Sometimes you feel it out in nature with people who are special to you. Or on a road trip driving late into the evening with the music blasting. Or your first time in a new city at sunset... 

Julia NelsonThe post below was originally written on November 5th, 2013.

This morning, I searched my site for any unpublished posts, wondering if I had anything half-written lying around on here waiting to be completed. I didn't even remember writing this (admittedly my memory hasn't been amazing lately thanks to the brainfog), and only now vaguely recall deciding to sleep on this one before posting it, feeling a bit nervous, or like it wasn't my place to write it.

Julia was born the same year as me, 1980, and her husband James recently reminded us on Facebook that it would have been her 34th birthday last week. I guess it's fitting for me to find this now...

Goodbye 2013. 

BB Day 27

You rivaled 2012 for how shitty I often felt, both physically and emotionally. But I also had some reprieves and glimmers of hope, showing me that change may be slow, but it's still possible. 

You were at once one of the hardest and most important years of my life. I'm tempted to say "good riddance", but that wouldn't be quite right...instead I'll say thank you.

For a while now, I've been questioning whether or not Vancouver feels like home. Just a few weeks ago, I was ready to throw in the towel and give somewhere else a shot. 

wilting hydrangeas

Even if it meant leaving my amazing healthcare team, renting out our house, and (dog forbid) moving. I was just sick of being here! (This sentiment seems to come in waves and this was a particularly strong one.)

I started weeding through my trip photos from September a few days ago because there are some really wonderful ones I wanted to share. I ended up splitting the side trip to Berlin into a separate post because there were just far too many!

Oostende

I've been thinking a lot again this past week about friends and community building. I think it's partly something that's been in the back of my mind for a while, and partly that my friend who I mentioned last time's memorial gave me a lot to think about.

She really left us all with some strong and important messages about love and choices and embracing life - especially not letting the past or even present circumstances hold you back. She had also been one of the people who had encouraged me the most to keep writing and talking about friendship and its challenges.

So, I was thinking this morning... life is weird. Stupid small things seem so important when they're not, we fuck up on the most critical stuff all the time, we hurt each other, and love each other, and it's all so fragile and gone in the blink of an eye. 

I was surprised how much (mostly private) feedback I got about a couple of my recent writings on friends and on health.

Almost every email, comment, private message, etc. I got about these posts was some form of this (paraphrased): "Wow, thank you for writing about this, I have totally been struggling with this so much and it's a relief to know I am not alone and/or get some info or insight about it."

IMG_3794

The reason this surprised me is that even now, after having this sort of experience with previous posts, I still often feel like I really am pretty alone in dealing with these things. I feel like I'm really going out on a limb by writing about them publicly. But again and again, I get these responses from people... which begs the question: Why aren't we talking about this stuff? No, this isn't a rhetorical question, I really want to know why everyone's not talking about this, out in the open!

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