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Is Your Friend a Jerk?

We all have "one of those friends" who just doesn't get the message that you have an incurable disease. They get upset when you cancel plans. They say, "Why are you sick all the time?" They don't get it. You look ok, but on the inside is a raging fire and pain they could never imagine. They don't see what happens behind closed doors.

You eat to survive, but minutes later you either throw up violently or it comes out the other end with no mercy. Some of us have motility issues. Most of us are in pain. For me, just moving sent me flying to the bathroom (this was, of course before I had a total colectomy). Dehydration was (and still is) problem for me. I've had to skip out on a lot of things. I even wanted to skip out on my sister's wedding, but I love her so I sucked it up and went anyway. So what do you do when your friends don't "get it?"

5) Put yourself in their shoes. Some of you were diagnosed as young children. You probably don't even remember what life was like before. I wish this weren't true. Others of us, like myself, had a completely different life before our diagnoses. Whenever I saw a chronic illness, it didn't affect me like it does now. I remember only once or twice in my young life when my mom was lying in bed because her Crohn's hurt her so badly. Thankfully it never got severe during my existence, so I didn't have to see the horrors that she faced when she was 18 years old. My aunt, on the other hand, had Crohn's Disease much worse than my mom. But I still didn't get it. She was constantly in and out of the hospital. Multiple surgeries and blood transfusions. Back then, I didn't know what was going on and didn't even bother asking... selfish, selfish me.

How many of you didn't "get it"? I'm sure if you stop to think about it, there was probably a time in your life where you brushed off chronic illness without even thinking twice, too.

4) Do your best to be patient with them. You will get mad. You will feel like screaming at them. You will get emotional when you feel misunderstood. Sometimes the best thing to do is just take a step back. Take a deep breath and remember that they're only human... and more than likely (THANKFULLY), they're a healthy human who doesn't have to fight their bodies on a daily basis. Remember, they are not the enemy!

3) Celebrate with them when you can. I know as well as anyone that living with a chronic illness has it's limitations. You can't always join their parties or weekend getaways. Be real with them. Be honest with them and tell them what's going on. You may be surprised at their reaction when you take time to be honest. If you can't make it on a specific day, ask for a rain check or explain that you are not feeling up for it and feel it best that you take time to rest instead. Honesty is a lot better than coming up with excuses all the time. Just be real. Most people will respect you for it. There will also be times where they may get mad and explode or worse--talk behind your back. In those moments, as hard as it may be, you MUST remember point #4: BE PATIENT and REMEMBER, THEY ARE NOT THE ENEMY (your colon is, though)! Do your best to put yourself in their shoes even if they don't make an effort to put themselves in yours.

2) Be a faithful or loyal friend regardless. Choose to make an effort to remain friends. In my experience, losing friends due to misunderstandings, lack of communication, etc. is one of the worst feelings. Even if that friend turns their back on you, do your best to shower them with kindness anyway. This doesn't mean lying on the floor and letting them trample you. It simply means making a conscious choice to do whatever it takes to be a good friend... even if you have to lay down your pride. Which brings me to point #1.

1) Love and forgive them. Maybe you've tried over and over again to explain to your friend what life with chronic illness is. Sometimes they'll never get it... in those instances, sometimes it's best just to forgive them and move on. Forgiving someone, especially when you feel you've done nothing wrong, is difficult. Forgiveness is something you do even if the person isn't sorry. Forgiveness is not easy, but it sure helps you. Holding grudges is never good for your peace of mind or your health. It's always best to let it go and move on with your life. Love them regardless of how they treat you or the things they've done. Again, don't become a doormat and by all means stand up for yourself, but do not harbor bitterness, unforgiveness or hatred in your heart. This will make you feel worse and eat you up from the inside. Love and forgiveness is always a better option.

Remember, your friend may never understand your disease no matter how hard you try to explain. But you cannot let it destroy your peace of mind. Again, they're not trying to be a jerk or a bad friend. Always try to salvage the friendship if you can. If you can't salvage the relationship, then perhaps it is better for you to cut all ties for your own sanity and peace of mind. It may take some time for you to get through to your friend, but it's worth the effort in the long run.

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