Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Carry That Weight

     One of my biggest goals in life is to live up to my own expectations as a friend. I want to be a good friend and in fact, pride myself somewhat on the fact that most of my closest friends have been around since grade school and our bonds are as strong as ever. I would even venture to say that we're closer now than we've ever been, because we've all experienced more than a decade of living with one another. Deaths, births, divorces, marriages, moves to other states, unemployment, career changes - you name it, we've done it together. I can't even begin to convey how much I've been given over the years by these people, who are just as much my family as my blood is.

     It follows then, that I want to be able to provide the comfort, the advice, the anything else that's been given to me whenever I've needed it, whether I asked for it or not. My husband has a small group of friends about whom he feels the same, though many of them live half a country away from him now. He wants to be there for them just as much, whether they're having an issue large or small. Right, you get it, we like our friends and want to be good friends to them. What's the issue? The issue is that I've noticed, more and more, that people seem to think they're burdening us with their problems and so shy away from saying anything to either of us. That could not be further from the truth.

      I need to explain what I mean a little better, I think. My husband has Marfan's Syndrome, a degenerative genetic disorder, right? Right. I, as the wife of said Marfan's person, have to deal with all the fun things that accompany such a disorder, like the daily meds, the hospital trips, the overly-complicated surgeries (hello, two-week recovery time for a fricking hernia repair!). I promise you, it's really not that big a deal to us when it comes to the day-to-day of everything. We live our lives just like everyone else, albeit with a few modifications here and there to allow for what my husband can and cannot do. In short, we make it work.

     I'm beginning to notice that it's as if some people don't fully believe me when I tell them that. Actually, to be more accurate, it's as if they think I'm just saying, "No, it's okay, tell me what's going on," to cover up what I really mean - "Of course I don't want to hear about your petty problems! I've got much bigger and more legit fish to fry over here with my sick husband!" People, that's not at all what I'm saying. I'm someone you can take at face value and if I don't have time to talk about whatever's on your mind, I will tell you so and ask if we can dissect it later. That said, I don't really think I'd ever be in a position where that would be necessary, 'cause I do have the ability to, you know, think about two things at once. Even better than that, I'm able to not think about me all the damn time and focus my attention on someone else's problems.

     I don't want my friends (or my family, for that matter) to think of my husband's disorder first and try to decide whether or not they should "bother me" with whatever it is that's going on in their lives. I don't want them to preface something with, "I know you've got a lot going on, but..." because it shouldn't matter. I don't want them to ever hesitate to tell me or my husband about an injury they're dealing with because it surely isn't as significant as my husband's physical ailments. It actually IS as significant. Things like that have just as much of an impact on their lives as anything with my husband's health has on ours. You're having a hard time dealing with bad choices your little sister is making? Tell me about it, I can try to help. Pulled a muscle in your back while you were at work? Hey, commiserate about that stuff with my husband. I know he knows of some pain-relief remedies that your doctor would never suggest.

     I hate feeling like less of a friend just because my life is what it is. Yeah, my life may be a little harder than some, but how many millions of people can claim the same thing and be right? A lot of them are far worse off than my husband and I, but that in no way invalidates what we have to deal with. By the same token, our life being affected by my husband's Marfan's in no way invalidates anything that our friends/family are dealing with. Their problems, concerns, injuries - they're just as important as anything I have to deal with. I'm a great friend, so is my husband, but only when people let us be. I want to share the burdens of those I love as much as I possibly can, to make the weight easier to carry. It works out so much better that way, I promise.

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