It seems that more often than not, I become “that friend.” You know the one I’m talking about. The one who you can never trust. The one who you wonder if she is actually going to see her plans through with you. This has cost me friendships.
You see, when I become that friend, I become someone who I never wanted to be. If you know me in the least, you know I’m loyal almost to a fault and I’m stubborn. You also know that I suck at answer my phone so I am that friend who doesn’t return your phone calls. You get upset. You get angry. But what you don’t understand is that I actually find phone calls painful. I have severe phone anxiety and although it’s better now, as a child I would burst into tears if I were merely asked to make a phone call. Talking on the phone actually has an adverse affect on my health, to the point where I go to great lengths to avoid it and have suffered massive consequences, in all aspects of life.
When I became that friend, the one who has to cancel plans last minute, I kicked myself in the ass. I want to be reliable. I want to be spontaneous. I want to be the friend who you know you can trust to pull through. The one you can make plans with and right as rain, you know they will happen. But my immune system is weak. I can get sick at the drop of a hat. I can get overwhelmed and anxious, and not capable of dealing with even my closest friends. My sensory issues can go into overload, meaning I have to be very particular about how I do things if I want to conserve every last spoon.
I became the friend who would wander away in the middle of messenger convos, sometimes serious ones. People would get upset and angry, thinking I don’t care about them. Thinking I was being selfish. But I randomly fall asleep, because I am ill. I randomly get overwhelmed, because of my autism and anxiety. I sometimes get distracted, because I have ADHD. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care for you. It means my body and brain just do their own thing, and I have little control over it.
I became the friend that everyone hates. You know, the one who is always playing with her phone. The one who will sit with her friends while still on her laptop. The one who is twirling her hair, cracking her knuckles, swinging her feet. I need to do those things. It isn’t a want and it isn’t merely me being rude. It’s me trying to function in the world the best I can. I promise, these things help me pay attention to you. Usually. Sometimes I get trapped in my own world and it doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means that I’m simply overwhelmed and I need to retreat to my safe place.
I became the friend who repeats herself, a lot. I honestly don’t remember saying things, because I’m on a lot of meds and I’ve a scatterbrain at baseline. Please don’t get mad because I repeat myself, a lot. And I also find saying the same things over and over comforting, because they’re words I know and words I can rely on.
And at the same time…
I still want to be your friend.
Even when I’m sick and lonely, I want you to come over and watch The Princess Bride or Ever After with me, two of my comfort movies. I want you to play video games with me. I want you to sit and talk, even if I’m lying in my bed barely able to move and you’re sitting in my floppy chair thing. I want you to still invite me to go out places, even if I may cancel last minute. I want to still hear about the details of your life, even if I don’t answer your emails or Facebook messages right away.
I became your friend who is chronically ill.
But I am still the same friend you always had.