Some years ago, my nephew got diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age. He was quite sick and it was naturally devastating to the family (he’s fine and thriving now). But I’ll always remember something my brother (his dad) told me at that time. He said “when something like this happens, you sure find out who your true friends are”.
For some reason, that always stuck with me.
Which leads us to today’s guest post. It’s from Wendy who runs a wonderful blog called Palm Trees & Gluten Free. The blog is a place for her to share her feelings, food ideas around Florida that she experiences, an occasional recipe and other information relating to her gluten free journey.
Wendy’s tale brings me back to what my brother said.
Here’s her story.
Our girls had been good friends for the past several years. They participated in team sports together and we car pooled together. We shared many holiday dinners over the years and our husbands were friends too.
She had been one of my go-to friends when I needed to talk about how sick I was last year and how frustrated I was when I didn’t know and then when I did find out I was gluten-intolerant. She also shared the positives: The joy and excitement of discovering what was wrong with me, trying new gluten free foods, laughing at some of it and talking about healthy eating as a whole.
During this time we shared many other events in our lives besides ones relating to gluten: our kids, school, our husbands, our jobs, life etc.
This past spring I started feeling the distance between she and I. There was also a rift occurring between our kids…namely negative words and actions from my daughter’s friend. After a few attempts by me to straighten things out/figure out what was going on, I was finally told via email that she could no longer be the friend that I needed.
She had hoped that my need to talk about gluten free would end, but it never did. She felt like she had been a great friend before this time, but just could not do it anymore. She even mentioned “I have been listening for years”. While it felt like a life time for me, in reality it had only been a year and a few months since I had figured it out (several months of hell before that time).
I was shocked, saddened and angered.
In the past we had spoken at times about how this to me this was like a death. I needed to grieve and one way was through talking about it. There is not a local support group in my area and so I turned to my close friends (she was not the only one). I have felt my needs diminishing over the past few months and I had transferred a great deal of my need to converse about it with just my husband, because I knew it was time to get over it and stop talking about it even though it is here with me 24/7.
I hate it just as much as this “old friend” of mine now hates it. Hate that it has taken over my life, but I also have to embrace it because it has given me back my life. Ironic, huh?
In times of strife we turn to our friends to lend an ear, offer advice and lift us up. I am not the one in the past who needed an ear, advice or to be lifted up often. Occasionally, but I am for the most part a positive already uplifting person….who could pick themselves up pretty easily on their own.
I did turn to another friend who has been sticking by me through all of this…one that I would like to say won’t ever leave my side (we have been friends since grade school). Ironic though, isn’t it a bit? Turning to another to vent again?
But here is what she said: Friendships are not always fun, happy or exciting. Sometimes they do get boring or depressing, but someone who has become a true friend is there by your side through it all, the good and the bad. A true friend stands by you just to listen, even when it is over and over again until it is off your chest.
She also understands that the “gluten-free” is never going away…it has become a part of me. It is a large part of who I am now. I am no longer talking about it all the time, but it does come up when choosing a restaurant and when cooking…and yes, surprisingly I do eat every day so IT just IS there all the time.
I wish it were not, but this IS my life now. I don’t always feel peachy-keen anymore…like before all of this kicked in and that sucks, but I do feel a whole lot better and I suppose it is time for me to pick myself up and find most of my old self again. I guess I can be thankful for that part of the “Kick in the pants”.
Life is a journey…this year having been a rather long one…for myself and my family. Life goes on. We learn and grown stronger because of situations like this. In hindsight, I feel like I could have controlled some of the above a bit more, but I also realize that I don’t want someone in my life who could not handle who I have become.
I am Gluten Free.
I am also still a little bitter, angry and have lost some trust in the world for the moment. I don’t like the way it was handled and that this has affected my daughter and her relationship with her friend. I have apologized to her and we have talked a lot about friendship. I wish I could shelter my kids from pain and myself, but I know these situations are life lessons and life changers for the positive, and thus “Gluten Free” has become a New Significant Life Educator for my family.
A part of me wants to thank that “No Longer My Friend Person”, but I won’t give her anymore of my “real time”.
Gluten Free Living – Life Lessons:
- Find a support group to help you get through it. If there is not one around, there are so many outlets on the Internet. I have met some wonderful people via the internet who are in my same boat (message boards, facebook and twitter).
- Definitely have a go-to person that you know will always have your back. Thankfully I do have others.
- Realize that people don’t want to hear you talk about your pains all the time. Give them breaks and just zip your lip on occasion.
- Remember your old self and get back to having your normal conversations with your friends and families it will help you move on. I waited a bit too long for this, but I have learned.
- Having a chronic illness will teach you a great deal about friends and family – even things you did not want to know.
- Keep your discussions with your acquaintances and your co-workers to a minimum when discussing your food issues. Most don’t want to hear much about it and they don’t think it is the cure all…even if you do think or know that it just might be.
- And in the end if a friend can’t be there for you, then maybe they never really were your friend.
A good friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.
A true friend seeks to help you with your problems.
A good friend expects you to always be there for them.
A true friend expects to always be there for you.