Dear Friends and Family,
If you could please stop telling me what a “bummer” it is when I can’t do something you want me to do with you because of my physical health, I would greatly appreciate it. It’s happened so many times in the past week alone that I feel the need to address it.
First let me make clear: I absolutely know that the reason you’re saying this is because you love me and want to spend time with me. I’m truly grateful to you for that. The fact that you’re sticking with me through all of this means more to me than I could ever adequately express.
At the same time: however bummed out you are in the moment by the implications of my illness, I promise you that I am living with those implications every moment of every day. It is indeed quite a bummer, and that’s not something I need to be reminded of when I am only trying to take care of myself – a practice that is very hard for me, and which gets even more challenging when I’m left feeling guilty about it, which I know is unintended but also kind of unavoidable when you essentially tell me that I’m letting you down.
I can only speak for myself, but I strongly suspect that this request applies to anyone in your life with a chronic illness (or even someone with a bad cold, for that matter). So the next time someone you love can’t do something you want because they just physically aren’t up to it, may I suggest this small change: instead of telling them it’s a bummer, try something more along the lines of, “I’m sorry to hear it, but I understand. I hope you feel better soon.” It’s a relatively small but compassionate shift for you to make, and I promise it would make a huge difference to me (and probably everyone else, too).
PS: For more related to this topic, I refer you to the iconic essay “The Spoon Theory” by my friend and fellow advocate, the great Christine Miserandino. Also check out the Circles of Support/Ring Theory of Venting. Thanks!