Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Second close-up of pictureAllowing people into our life with the diagnosis of a serious chronic illness is an important step to building the support system that will sustain us and provide us with a way to “give back” to the goodness from which we benefit. This can be very hard, especially if we experience loss among the social circle we had previously relied upon. But even as we feel a deep sting, a kind of betrayal, from so-called friends who turn away from us, we are probably better off if we discover our true friends sooner rather than later. Chronic illness is just that – chronic, ongoing — and if someone cannot stand being around us in the early stages, just after diagnosis, their negative influence can have a deep impact upon us, our life, and our spirit moving forward, too.

It helped me tremendously to focus my limited social energy on people who truly cared. I realized I couldn’t control people’s emotions, nor could I be a kind of therapist helping someone “deal with” the way my life had to change. So, as much as it hurt, as as often as the tears did fall, I turned more firmly to only a few friends, a few people whose emotional capacity was deep, comforting, and positive. And, I turned to God.

Of course, I’d always had a profound prayer life, a deep faith. But in the early days of my diagnosis with lupus, I carried on a running dialogue with the Creator, sometimes running out of specific words, never running out of the desire to bring Him into the exam room, the pharmacy waiting line, the wig shop – everywhere. Thus inviting God into all parts of my life, He opened others up to tremendous, lasting friendships with me, too. And these, added to those who were with me before and after the diagnosis, have made for a rich, inspiring, and wonderful social circle!

It is crucial to invite at least one very positive person into your immediate life after diagnosis, even bringing him or her into a doctor visit or two. We need not face chronic illness alone. And as we find those true friends to accompany us, and God to give us inner strength, we will find ourselves on even firmer footing for the journey ahead.

Peace,

Maureen

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