June 6, 2016: The blog entry below was written over a year ago when I was struggling through accepting that so many of the people you believe to be “true” friends show their true colors.
This was and still is such a hard thing for me to accept and somehow I am still shocked and disappointed when someone lets me down (even if that person has let me down before!)
Here is what I do know: when it comes to friendship quality is far more important than quantity.
Enjoy the entry!
A letter to my fair weather friends:
You are my friends that I have had so much fun with at the bar, Sunday brunches, concerts, slumber parties, bachelorette parties, weddings, lunches, dinners, coffee, hiking, and so much more. You are the friends who say you absolutely love me, I’m so much fun! I have gotten texts and phone calls from you regularly. You often think of me first when you are planning something fun and exciting. You’ve told me time and again that you have my back.
You are the friends that when times got tough, I became an inconvenience and an annoyance.
You took my pain as a personal insult.
You interpreted my severe depression as a negative attitude. You think that the 50 lbs I gained were because I was lazy and pigging out and that I should get off my ass. You are certain if I just juiced or ate cleaner my disease would be cured. You didn’t even call or text after I had to give up my pregnancy. You think I am taking the easy way out by taking my 12 pills every morning. You became insulted and hurt when I was unable to be myself at or even simply attend your exciting life events. Some even went so far as to say “I miss the fun Cheryl!.” And not only did you think these things, but you said them…and most of the time not even to me but to other people about me.
You hurt my heart with these things.
I have lost sleep and spent precious energy feeling sad and hurt and at moments angry about them. Yet, I never confronted you about any of these things. (Very unlike the old Cheryl) Why not? For one, that precious energy I mentioned, I don’t have it to spend on a conversation about this. And more importantly, these last two years have given me perspective I am so blessed to have.
I want to tell all of my fair weather friends, THANK YOU! I understand that the comments you’ve made are more about you than me, and I am sorry that you were in a place in your life that you had trouble finding compassion and empathy.
I know you can’t possibly understand what I was going through and I truly hope and pray you never have to.
Most importantly, I want to thank you for helping me find the value and appreciation for the friends and family in my life who loved and supported me unconditionally.
My amazing partner in this life, Alex, God definitely blessed me with you at the exact perfect moment and I could never express my gratitude enough to you. You have sacrificed so much of your life to ensure my comfort and health. You’ve missed days and hours of work to come sit in doctors offices with me. You’ve spent your own money (before it was our money) to pay off doctor bills that loomed over me and gave me even more anxiety than I was already living with. You’ve sat up with me in bed when I am in unbelievable pain that we don’t understand and comfort me through the panic it causes. You’ve driven me to the emergency room (even if you did take the long way) when I know you’d much rather be anywhere but there. You’ve picked up roughly a million prescriptions when I don’t feel up to running to the pharmacy. You’ve done your own research on the best diet, exercise, medications, supplements, lifestyle changes for me. And you’ve changed your own lifestyle and diet to help encourage me. You stood by my side as I gained pound after pound (until I got to 50 extra of them), got pimple after pimple, had swollen face and cankels, and basically watched your beautiful and fun loving girlfriend transform into a swollen, tired looking (and feeling) sickly and depressed person. You drove me anywhere I needed to be because my head hurt too badly to drive myself. You sacrificed all music with a beat and switched all my light bulbs to bulbs that didn’t hurt my eyes so badly. You have tried to understand me, tried to put yourself in my shoes, and always just tried your best in every challenge.
Most importantly, you have loved me, made me feel beautiful, important, necessary, you’ve made me laugh, you’ve held me while I’ve cried and you’ve cried with me. You turned an awful diagnosis into a meaningful relationship that I would not sacrifice for anything in the world.
As Dr. Wilson said, “If you two can survive prednisone, marriage will be easy!” I know that whatever lies in front of us, we will be able to get through it together. Remember to always keep laughing and kissing me goodnight and good morning. I love you more than words and I am so thankful for you.
My parents, I’ve never had to question your love and support and that didn’t change when I got sick. With every case of strep throat my mom was on the phone asking if she could come take care of me. With every procedure she lost sleep and fasted with me. She flew to LA, drove to San Luis Obispo, facetimed in to any and every appointment or procedure I would allow. She cooked and cleaned, she held me like I was still her baby and cried and hurt with me. She would have given anything to take the pain and heartbreak I was in as her own. She offered not only emotional support but financial support. My medically necessary termination was not covered by insurance. Alex and I covered most of it up front but we chose to put the doctor’s portion of the bill on a payment plan and each month it came billed as “abortion”. That word can put me in tears and ruin my day in an instant. Month after month I’d open the bill and call her heartbroken; so she sent a payment in to cover the balance so I wouldn’t have to fear my mailbox anymore. I don’t have the relationship with my dad that I do with my mom, but there is no mistaking he has been deeply troubled by my pain. After I was diagnosed and we were all headed into my appointment at UCLA to find out what was next, I watched my dad shake Alex’s hand and tell him, “You seem to have a better handle on this than I do. She’s yours from here.” Most dads give their daughters away at an altar, mine gave me away in a tiny doctors office at the Ronald Reagan Center in Santa Monica. I find this equally touching. He recognized that Alex was the man in my life and gave him permission to fill that role. Although he took a secondary seat to Alex, he has still tried to remain an active support system. He understands my anxiety, depression and pain better than most and frequently tries to offer insight, and support when I am suffering. He coaches me on how to get back to work and be successful. Mom and dad, I love you so much and am so grateful for all you’ve done for me my entire life.
My sisters! Sisters by birth, friends by choice. I love you two and am so grateful you are mine. I know you never know how to be there for me, mostly because I never know how I need people to be there for me. I know I am a pain like that. You two have often taken the brunt of my grouchiness. Both of you have not only taken the time to call and text regularly, but you both have put your lives on hold to come here and take care of things and me after procedures. When I get bad news, you both feel it with me. I never have questioned your love of me. I know you will always be there in a moments notice if I need you. I love you so much.
Kalex, (Kalie and “the other” Alex – you see what I did there?) you two have gone above and beyond what could ever be expected of friends. The countless times you have had me over or come over to take care of meals. Not just cook anything but do your research and think outside the box and cook within my restrictions. I’m sure this has something to do with my complicated relationship with food, but these restrictions were such a hard mental barrier to overcome and for a while there the thought of what my next meal would be was so stressful. The way you just handled things without my having to explain what I could and couldn’t eat was more helpful than you could ever know. Not only did you cook this way but you instituted my new restrictions and habits into your own lives. My disease made all our diets a little healthier, you’re welcome! You both have been the safest of safe places for both Allex and I. Even on days I felt like absolute shit, we could come to your house and just be. Alex could be entertained by someone other than his comatosed girlfriend and I could be comfortable, ugly, grouchy, sad, mad, happy, or any other emotion my prednisone roller coaster might have me feeling in that moment. You’ve loved me and supported me unconditionally. You’ve tried to help me see perspective and rationality when I couldn’t (and often still can’t), and you never judged me. You have taken care of my four legged fur babies so we could travel to doctors appointments and much needed vacations. You’ve taken time off work to come to doctors appointments with me so you could ask questions and really understand for yourself what I am dealing with. You two have been our best friends and we can’t wait to share the rest of our lives with you guys!
Amy Lee, besties since you pantsed me in 6th grade. Although we are separated by 300 miles, you have always taken the time to check in. You’ve had my back in every area of my life. You can tell by the tone of my voice what kind of day I am having. You remember every big appointment or test I have coming and always wish me luck before and check in after. You don’t take offense on the days I can’t answer the phone, and if I don’t answer you for too long you call Alex to make sure I am alive and I love that. You share my happiness and my sadness just like a real, true blue best friend does.
Brittany, my best friend, personal trainer, life coach, therapist. I have been so lucky to have you by my side in all of my life struggles and successes. Your encouragement is unwavering. You help me stay emotionally intelligent at every challenge. You lift me up with your compliments and you understand and support me through my struggles. I have a number of beautiful hand drawn cards all over my house from you and Zoe and they always make me smile. I love that we can talk about absolutely anything and everything from what is happening on a Teen Mom, to what mascara we should be using, to my heartbreak over having to give up my pregnancy and my intense desire to fill the void that left. You always make me feel pretty and smart and capable of anything. Thank you.
Cathryn, you sure didn’t know what you were signing up for when you answered my craigslist ad for a roommate. You were so patient with me. You made my house a home. You went above and beyond to take care of me and make sure I always had what I needed. You shared my addiction to sugar and allowed me to indulge when I needed too; and then you’d get on board with the healthy eating when I needed that. You even hid all salt in cabinets too high for me to reach. You’d check in with me before ever leaving the house to make sure I didn’t need you to pick me up anything or even if I needed more water so i wouldn’t have to get up. Like you said, you never knew if I’d be laughing or crying when you came home and yet you kept coming home. You became one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had in my life. You helped make our home a sanctuary where I could feel safe and comfortable. I was absolutely devastated when it was time for you to move on but I am thrilled you’ve found happiness in the next step in your life.
Deanna, you have spent so many hours with me, listening, talking, and just being there. The day I had to have an iud put in after ending the pregnancy I was so sad. I’d been upstairs crying with Alex over all the heartache I was feeling over the loss of the pregnancy and over not being able to get pregnant because I was not healthy enough to (not that it was even the right time in my life aside from my health issues, but that didn’t change the pain of being told I couldn’t/shouldn’t). When I came downstairs I found that a sweet friend, that was relatively new in my life, had taken the time from her busy life to drop flowers off on my table, just to try to brighten my day. You always take time for me. You take time to drive over the grade to bring me tea, you take time to send me the sweetest, uplifting messages, you take time to be an amazing friend to me and I am so appreciative that you do.
My slo mom, you’ve held my hand at the doctor, you help me try to find relief from itching spells, you listen and feel for me through every new symptom and side effect that pops up. You and dad and lins have really been my second family and I love you as much as you love wine!
Alex’s family also deserves praise. They met me at the hardest time I’ve had in my life yet and still loved and accepted me into their family. My Portuguese momma has made me so many amazing meals that I never thought I’d be able to eat again. She has found my restrictions a welcomed challenge in the kitchen. She supported us giving up the pregnancy even though I know it goes against all her beliefs. She has loved me like a daughter and i love her like a mom. The Rocha’s, thank you for letting me pick T Ron’s amazing brain about what all my labs mean and for letting me come into your home and accepting me even on my roughest days. All of Alex’s extended family as well, thank you for always being concerned about me and sending your best wishes and prayers. I appreciate all of you and feel so blessed to call you my family.
I am so blessed to have not only those specifically mentioned above, but also so many other friends and family that have truly loved and cared for me through this mess over the last couple of years. I am eternally grateful to all of you!
Thank you to the fair weather friends for helping me realize how many absolutely amazing people I am lucky enough to have in my love.