With 50 years around the sun, Kimberly enjoys sharing a variety of her personal life experiences with others.
When fighting a chronic disease such as the one I battle, it indeed does affect relationships between friends and family. I hope to share some insights into the reality of relationships and how they differ when you're fighting an uphill battle of chronic illness.
Love of Family
Family is my greatest treasure in life: my marriage, children, parents, siblings, and grandchildren.
During the darkest hours of my ongoing Fibromyalgia nightmare, my family was steadfast. They were sympathetic and heartfelt and tried their very best to be accommodating of my needs.
My core family looked in on me, took me into their homes from time to time, made phone calls, took care of errands, assisted me with medical visits, prepped meals, and tried their very best to be encouraging.
My husband did his absolute best to be by my side. He was loving and kind and attentive to my needs.
I say all of that to now tell you that I felt utterly ALONE!
Friendships Come and Go
In the past, I had several flourishing friendships. Life happened, and through a variety of means, these relationships dwindled. Some friendships went to the wayside due to distance, different seasons, different paths, circumstances, etc.
I want to give a special thanks to my small circle of lifetime friendships that continued to message me, lift me up and send their prayers and support while I was so very ill. Each one of you is treasured.
When I found my sobriety, I lost another handful of friends.
I can look back on that darkened path of the Fibromyalgia nightmare I was living and see one dear friend who stuck by my side through it all. She was my rock! She was my cheerleader, listening ear, support, shoulder to cry on, and everything in between. I state this because it is noteworthy, in the story to follow; You'll see that I often felt friendless and alone. In reality, God had gifted me a very blessed relationship, though I couldn't see it clearly when I was in the thick of the battle.
"A day without a
friend is like a
pot without a drop of
— Winnie the Pooh
No Longer the Life of the Party
I am an introvert by design and tend to need fewer interactions with people. However, before I found my sobriety from alcohol, my life appeared much more exciting and social. Life was one big happening party and celebrating it was of most importance.
I am also an empath and feel things deeply to my core. Eliminating alcohol left me feeling vulnerable, and I was now experiencing life in a whole new fashion. I could no longer find an escape with a bottle of spirits.
So many times throughout fighting this uphill battle, I felt invisible. I felt unheard by medical doctors; I felt unworthy and stripped of any dignity.
In my previous life, before Fibromylagia and Chronic Fatigue consumed my entire being, I was dependable; I was true to my word and commitments. When illness plagued my body, I became weak, unable, and certainly was no longer reliable to make plans or commitments to anyone or anything.
In my pursuit to find wellness, my body underwent many food changes. No one could keep up with my diet. One year I was full-on "Eat Right for your Blood Type" Another Year, I was Keto/Carnivore, Then Raw Vegan, and so on.
My diet changes, along with food allergies and sensitivities, made it rather difficult to be invited to a meal with friends and family. It was also challenging to attend dinner at a restaurant due to my specific food needs. A once pleasurable experience in meeting up with loved ones for a meal was no longer enjoyable in my life. Nor is it in the present day.
Even simple coffee dates had become affected when my body couldn't make it out of the house.
Depression Doesn't Draw a Crowd of Friends
My life felt insignificant. I was with-drawn, entirely too exhausted to carry on conversations over the telephone, and most certainly didn't have enough reserve energy to meet up with friends for a day of fun.
I was experiencing my life from the inside out, and my life was confusing even to me. I never knew how one moment to the next was going to look. I could feel somewhat "normal" one moment and feel utterly inside out the next. I could carry on a conversation one moment to be too exhausted to talk the next. I could ride my bike down the road the length of a football field and then be in bed for several days. There was no rhyme or reason to the dysfunction that was going on until I uncovered the latent viral load my body was dealing with daily.
Judgment Behind My Back
Even though I had support from my closest family and friend, I could feel the whispers behind my back. The critical judgments, the disbelief, the ideas that I was being lazy or faking my illness, that I was looking for attention, questioning why I wasn't getting better, the scrutinizing looks, indeed she was just a hypochondriac.
It was most difficult when getting asked, "How are you feeling today?" Every ounce of my being often felt like screaming that I was worse off than the day before. However, I would politely try to smile and pick myself up so that I wouldn't cause more depressing conversations with those around me.
Friends and family who had never dealt with a chronic illness before really could not fathom the dysfunction that was going on with my body. I tried to educate those around me to understand why I was the mess they saw before them and to help them understand the insanity I was going through. However, the overwhelming symptoms of Fibromylagia and Chronic Fatigue are a hard pill to swallow.
Relationship with my Husband
My relationship with my husband was a struggle during the "black-hole" days of my fighting battle with chronic illness. Foundationally, my 27-year marriage was solid; however, the unknowns, mood swings, being chronically tired, my inability to make his meals or provide a kept home were some of the most apparent complications during this dark time in our lives.
He never knew what to expect from day to day or hour to hour. We reached a point of not planning events or outings or anything fun because my health conditions had worsened to the end of being bedridden most of my days. As you can imagine, this was not what either of us had signed up for.
During this battle, My husband was going through struggles of his own. He was watching the woman he loved decline before him. He felt helpless, insignificant, and unable to fix me.
Chained in Darkness
Ailments wholly consumed me. I was losing my mind and body and felt as if my soul was chained in darkness. I was unavailable mentally, physically, and emotionally. My reality was most likely skewed; however, I felt abandoned, deeply, and utterly depressed during that time in my life.
I felt like a complete failure; I was no longer fun, exciting, or enthusiastic about life. Every ounce of my being was suddenly thrust forward into a world of daily survival.
God brought a You Tube Friendship into my life
In my darkest moments, alone, afraid, and nearly void of all hope, God stepped in and brought me a friend in a most unusual way. I spent countless hours in bed feeling ill and beside myself. During this time, I would watch youtube videos to help pass my day and to help me focus on things outside of my wretched condition. I came upon a YouTube content creator who was sharing information about homesteading.
Her knowledge was valid to me since I, too, was off-grid homesteading at the time. I began religiously following her videos. Somehow, I reached out via email, and a friendship was born. It wasn't long, though, before her content began changing in a new direction. Soon I was watching her share her story of divorce, illness, and finding God. I continued to follow her, and we emailed back and forth, and this gave me inner hope on days that I couldn't; fathom going on. A vast "SHOUT OUT" to my friend Starry Hilder.
When I was receiving care through Life Tree Natural Wellness, a Holistic Lifestyle Center; My dear friend Starry was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Cancer. Starry's testimony of treating her cancer through holistic therapies gave me inspiration and hope.
She posted online videos of some of the things I was about to endure in seeking treatment through a similar lifestyle center. The emails continued, as did her encouragement and kindness. This online connection meant more to me than she will ever know. God used her in the depths of my despair to be a blessing to me. I will be sharing some of her video links in future articles. She has a wealth of knowledge to share with others.
Friendships without Expectations
Soon, God brought two more blessings into my life. The perfect friendships for the season of life I was experiencing. Starry introduced her sister to the world over her youtube videos as she was beginning her channel. Later I became a follower of her videos, and a new friendship arose through online messaging and snail-mail.
Before long, I had been introduced online to a mutual friend of the two sisters, and she became the third blessing in my life. God provided me a friendship of praying women who were heartfelt, genuine, and able to befriend me in my state of illness, just as I was.
These newfound friendships truly saved my sanity. There were no presumptions or judgments, or conditions upon our friendly correspondence between one another.
There were no unrealistic expectations of getting together for a day on the town, phone calls, coffee, lunch dates, shopping, or any other such energy-consuming friend assumptions. God had indeed provided for me in my time of need.
These courageous women all have a story of their own. I believe that is why we were so relatable to one another's needs. I am genuinely grateful for every correspondence, prayer, shared hope, and encouragement that I received from each of my friends.
Spreading Hope & Sunshine
I believed God was going to bring me through this storm. I held to my faith and trusted that God would unfold a plan of healing and restoration. He placed a desire within my heart to start sharing hope and encouragement with others even though it wasn't tangible to me in the present moment.
My desire to connect with others and make a difference in the world led me to create a private online Facebook group, "A Pocketful of Hope and Sunshine." The intention was to share hope and encouragement with others. I wanted others to feel heard, accepted, loved and validated in their journey of life. Sharing hope and inspiration gave me purpose. Moderating this group gave me the much-needed interaction with others that my life had lost through my illness. I could pray for their needs, share their requests, and sing praises in times of celebration. Suddenly my world didn't feel as closed in and oppressed as it once had.
Grateful for Family and Friends
In conclusion, relationships are complex on a good day. Throw in some chronic illness and long-standing ailments and prepare to weather the storm together.
I can look back in my rear-view mirror and see that even though there was criticism and judgment that to err is human, it is in our nature to scrutinize a situation. I learned a valuable lesson through this. It is not the responsibility of friends or family to be all and do all. We often place too much burden on others to make us happy and not enough accountability on ourselves.
I appreciate each person who has positively touched my life. My family and friends are most valuable to me.
Click a Link to Follow the Journey
This article concludes one of many I've shared from my real-life experiences fighting a chronic disease. I hope you will give the links below a click and follow along for the journey.
- My Battle with a Chronic Invisible Illness
In this article, I will be sharing my ongoing battle with Fibromyalgia an invisible illness that causes widespread pain and dysfunction.
- Fibromyalgia My Search for a Diagnosis
Welcome to the road less traveled. I will be sharing the extensive process I went through in searching for a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Giving insight into the numerous ups and downs along my Fibromyalgia journey.
- Taking a Holistic Approach to my Fibromyalgia Journey
In this article, I will be sharing my ongoing battle and fight for restored health and wellness of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Epstein-Barr Virus.
- My Husbands Strength Through My Personal Battle of Chronic Illness
I will share some of my husbands struggles of living a life that is married to chronic illness. Fighting the battles of Fibromyalgia from the sidelines.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Kimberly