Letting Well-meaning Friends Off the Hook

Letting Well-meaning Friends Off the Hook
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well-meaning friends

So, of course my friends all know that I have Crohn’s. It’s not something I hide. But I’m not usually forthright with specifics, mostly because I don’t feel anyone would really get it.

A couple of weeks ago I was taking a walk with a friend. We were talking about our plans for the rest of the week. I mentioned that I was going see my gastroenterologist for my eight-week checkup. (Every eight weeks is typical for me.)

The next day she texted, How was your appointment?I thought that was very nice of her. I texted back, “The same as usual.” And it had been. My doctor and I had agreed that I had no real choices to changing medications, but maybe switching the protocol I was on would be beneficial. He was concerned that I’d lost four pounds without trying. (Come on, I had retorted. Four pounds wasn’t a lot. He’d countered by saying that I was too small to lose any amount of weight and suggested those calorie-boosting drinks that I don’t have any intention of trying. And for the record, I gained the weight back in just a few days.)

My friend texted back, “Well, at least it wasn’t any worse. You’re staying the same.” I could imagine my friend, hunched over her phone, trying to think of something positive to say. I could imagine her starting to type and erase various positive, upbeat messages. She knew I hated them.

I thought about what she said. I don’t like it when people try to find a “good” in a “not good” situation. And I could have gone with reminding her of that. We’ve been friends for about 20 years, and she knows I’ve been battling this disease a long time. But then I thought to myself, “Why should I do that? She’s just trying to be nice.” So I texted back, “It’s okay to not know what to say. And it’s okay that it’s hard to say anything positive about this. Don’t worry about it.”

I don’t know how she felt on her side of the conversation after that, but I felt really good. I hadn’t “yelled” at her. I hadn’t gritted my teeth and ignored her. I’d just been honest about it. And I allowed her to feel honest, too. “Okay!” she wrote back. “Let’s walk again together soon.”

It was a good moment, I’d like to think, for both of us.


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