“Oh yes, on Tuesday I don’t have anything. Let’s drink wine and watch that new Pixar movie!”
“I’ll totally watch binge watch ‘House of Cards’ with you this weekend!”
Tuesday comes, and my friend or partner tells me they are grabbing drinks with someone and excitedly rushes out the door. I sit there confused because I thought we had plans. Sometimes there is a strange offering of an explanation before they go, but more often they leave without even acknowledging we ever had plans.
It happens over and over. I become the back-up plan because of my chronic illness. I’m the plan people have if no one else wants to do anything Friday night or if they are too tired to go out.
What people fail to realize is that they were my only plan. There are so many days when I can do nothing more than watch a movie and cuddle. When my healthy loved ones say they are going join me, I remember. I am excited to finally have company in this lonely struggle. I finally have something to look forward to in their company.
It hurts to realize to them I am the back-up plan. Easily changed and forgotten. So easily forgettable when the promise of their company was beyond unforgettable to me.
It is already a struggle to maintain relationships. I have to find people who are willing to hang out in a low-key setting instead of always going out. Even when I find people who understand that not every hang-out will be an outdoor adventure, it is a struggle to find people who take your plans seriously.
Staying social with a chronic illness seems impossible. I’m either branded a flake or have my plans not being taken seriously. It is no wonder socializing is such a struggle with chronic illness.
What can you do to help? Take plans you make with everyone seriously. Don’t treat your chronically ill friend as a back-up plan.