Dear internet friends, real life friends, and those in between,
After endless miserable months, this week was slightly less painful, and it ended with a fabulous day spent with one of my awesome friends, Chelsea. Chelsea is not only sweet, ridiculously intelligent and other positive adjectives, but she was also the first friend I ever made after moving to Missouri. The first time we hung out without our boyfriends we ended up talking for what seemed like too short a time while we consumed sugar cookies we had made ourselves, and I was consoled by the fact that she was someone very much like myself in a place that I felt I didn’t belong in.
It was only 8 months into my new life here that Chelsea was whisked away to a new job in Cinncinati, Ohio (which for some reason in my head always looks like Townsville from PowerPuff Girls)
I’m really not that far off.
While I was proud of her because she worked absurdly hard to get a job in her field, I was seriously bummed to have her go from living fifteen minutes away to five hours. Even though she still comes back to visit frequently, there’s only so much a person can fit in one weekend. Finally a weekend came where she could see me, and I was elated. “It’s better than Santa coming!” I told my boyfriend, to which he instantly replied, “that’s a little weird.”
Chelsea showed up around 1pm and we hung out until 11pm or so. We cooked, ate, ate some more, played games, and talked and talked…and talked. I was hoping that my illnesses would for once, allow me to enjoy a day without throwing me into a pain filled vortex; but I must have wished upon the wrong star, because around 6pm I became nauseated, achy, and pain quickly spread throughout my body. “Do you mind if we go hang out in the bedroom?” I asked her, which really meant, “for fuck’s sake I’m in too much pain and my stomach is going to flip inside out. Either I lay down or I might actually implode.” Of course Chelsea complied, and to my bedroom we went.
This is an extremely common occurrence in my life. If I have someone visiting or vice versa, at a certainly point I have to ask if I may lay in their bed, guestroom, or couch. I generally fake through my pain, but the older I get, it seems the facade is falling away at a rapid speed. It was not always this way; it has only been within the last few years that this has become a thing. It is just a very, very annoying thing.
Most healthy people do not have to ask during a visit if they can lay down in a friend’s bed, or if a friend can come lay down with them (I mean, when it is put that way, I kind of sound like I am trying to seduce people). I feel fortunate that most of the friends I have are generally understanding that I only have so many spoons at once and that I never have a choice as to when my body decides to run out of them entirely. The days I have visitors, go to someone’s home, or go to a party and I don’t have to lay down I feel so accomplished. While it is strange that this is how many of my social interactions go, it isn’t entirely unpleasant.
I’ve come to love the simplicity of laying next to one (or several) of my friends and talking without much else in the way. The raw and honest human connection that comes from these days and nights have become very dear to my heart. While it is frustrating that some days I’ll go to a person’s house with the intent of watching movies or playing games and end up laying in their dark bedroom holding back my tears, it’s also a lovely feeling to do something so personal with someone that I don’t always know extremely well. By the time I’m feeling well enough to either carry on our plans or go home, our hearts and minds are a little closer and a little brighter, and neither of us are disappointed that the original plans fell through.
So many of these moments have lead me to grow relationships with my friends that are based off a deeper connection than favorite bands and movies. Cassy, my other big sister from another mister (and misses) and I would often lay on her bed with her eccentric dog Pepper. Since Cassy often feels unwell herself, we’d both lay there, abdomens wrenching for their respective reasons, sick of all the things, while we talked about life, the universe, and everything. At parties, when I am exhausted to my core and find myself slumped on a couch, it rarely takes long for someone to come sit near me for whatever reason they wish to take a break. Once a stranger came to sit by me for whatever reason while I was floored (well, couched actually) by pain from not only my illnesses but also an overload of red wine, and he ended up becoming one of my favorite people to talk to.
When I had my hysterectomy, I couldn’t sit up for longer than an hour, and I had to fluctuate between laying on my back and sitting up. When my friends came to visit me, they’d all pile onto the guest bed I was practically living on, all of us squished together. My particular friends that I did this often with dubbed this the “cuddle puddle.” When I stayed with another friend, Andrey, who selflessly gave up his bedroom for a week to allow me to recover somewhere safe, he and I sat on his bed and talked late into the night (at least, late for two very exhausted humans), which was especially neat since we hardly knew each other at the time. These situations have constantly made me feel safe; they make me feel at home with the people I share the moments with.
I’ve given up looking for cures to all my illnesses. While I am hoping that they will all improve once I learn how to care for myself in the best possible way, I’m never going to be a normal girl. I am never going to be not disabled, and I am always going to have to act in different ways than most of the people I meet. Yet as I have written before (though possibly not for a while since I have been even more depressed than usual the past year) I really believe with all my being that it is more than possible to live a happy, healthy, thriving life, even with all 14 of my illnesses.
That might mean that I won’t always be as functional as the rest of the people I am around, even on my best days. However, as long as I am around compassionate and empathetic people who have no problem laying with me on a strange bed talking about whatever pops into our heads at the time, I am pretty sure I’m going to be okay. Hopefully, I’ll eventually be more than okay.
Thank you Chelsea for being a particularly spectacular friend in every way, despite not knowing me for very long. Say hi to the PowerPuff girls for me.
You have my heart in your hands.
You have my heart, so don’t, don’t let it go.
Check my pressure, patch me right up,
You’re too good to be.