Loving Pride with a Side of Wistfulness and a Dollop of Frustration

Last night I attended a law school graduation ceremony. Not just any law school graduation – one of my very closest friend’s graduations. She’s been one of my absolute best friends pretty much since the day we met. We were 12. We’re almost 26 now. You can do the math. She’s essentially family. So when she asked me to attend her law school graduation, saying no never really occurred to me. How could I not go if she wanted me there? The fact is, I know how hard she’s worked to get there and I’m incredibly proud of her. Of course I am. How could I not be?

One thing I’ve realized about living with a chronic illness: it invades and taints every last aspect of your life down to your genuine pride in your friends’ accomplishments. As I sat there and listened to the keynote speech about all the things the graduates could achieve, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that my lupus and fibromyalgia took away my own professional degree. There is no longer a med school graduation in my future (despite the fact that I’m still paying loans for the time I was in med school). I wonder if that reality is ever going to stop stinging…

It can be so hard to watch as other people’s lives move forward while mine seems to be stagnant. It isn’t, not really, since I do have a job. But it makes me irritatingly repetitive as I try to emphasize the couple of impressive things about my job because it feels so inadequate compared to what other people in my life are achieving as their lives move forward and I’m stuck in a regressed career time point that I thought I was well beyond. One, in fact, that I specifically didn’t want and pointedly moved away from.

Of course, I didn’t say any of that. I hid it as well as I possibly could. I didn’t want my pain to take away from her big day. That wouldn’t be fair to her. I couldn’t bear the idea of her worrying about my sadness at the loss of my life plans when she should be celebrating the accomplishment of hers. There’s no reason why her mind would drift to the idea that i would be anything but happy for her, after all. And while it is inarguably not fair for me to have to hide my true feelings either, I felt it was the lesser of two evils.

Alas – (Ok so maybe that word choice is a little excessively melodramatic, so sue me.) – this is a problem that never really goes away as the lives of the healthy tick ever forward while we sit around in some, inaptly named as it is rather slowly sinking, quicksand.

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4 Comments

Filed under coping, insensitivity/ignorance, introspection, rant

4 responses to “Loving Pride with a Side of Wistfulness and a Dollop of Frustration

  1. Cathy/greytfriend

    I understand exactly how you feel. My best friend has finally fallen in love with a fantastic woman and is about to propose. She has a son and they’re buying a house and it’s too much fun for words, just wonderful, I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. But it’s hard not to think about the hopes and dreams for the future that I’ve had to put aside too. And of course it happens at a lot of occasions, professionally and personally. This just isn’t the life I planned for. I know that happens to a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and we all have to try our best to deal with the hand that we’re dealt. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have regrets. And thinking about it a bit on your friend’s special day doesn’t mean that you love her any less or are any less proud of her accomplishment. Ir’s just that celebrations sometimes highlight the things that we’ve lost.

  2. I can relate SO much to this post!!!
    I was a Biology major and interested in the medical field before I hurt my back on the job. I switched to Real Estate and after working in that field for 7 years, and working my way up to a well paying position, I got sick to the point where I couldn’t work anymore. I went from being married with 2 incomes, 2 cars and Alaskan summer toys, to being divorced, living in low-income housing with my mom (who also suffers with lupus and it’s associated illnesses) no car, no health insurance and minimal work I can do from home.

    Through all of this, I was able to keep a positive attitude until last year when I couldn’t be happy for a friend of mine who had gone through a divorce but because she was healthy, she was able to keep her house, car, job and was excited about starting her life anew and travel to all the places she’d always wanted to go, and for the first time, I wasn’t happy for her.

    I was jealous and angry; Very uncharacteristic emotions for me. Now that Cymbalta is a part of my life, I feel cheerier but it still stings to think about what my life was and where it is now even though I try very hard to keep smiling.
    Love your candor in this post!
    Thanks for posting this!

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