The Short End Of The Stick

I guess you could say an I am in a pickle.

As a person with multiple chronic and episodic disabilities, I am not an easy friend to have.

However, I try.

For the last two years, my health has been erratic, often failing surprising for no apparent reason.

Is it because I am HIV+ and my immunity system, after 30 years fails me, or am I just one of those people that gets ill often?

The thing is I don’t want this to come at jeopardizing my friendships.

And I get it, I make plans and then I have to cancel, but my intentions are good. I am quite transparent that I may suddenly get ill, and I appreciate that is a challenge when you’ve made plans three weeks in advance to so something.

However, I feel I have been forthright.  I have said to my friends can we make plans for a certain day, but with episodic health issues I just can’t follow through.

Some friends are good with this, let’s just take one day at a time,

They say it may not always work, but let’s give it a try,whereas I know other need to be able to plan in advance.

Recently, I cancelled plans to see a matinée with a friend, who is a caregiver like me, and HIV+ like me, and I texted him that morning to say, I was not feeling well, and didn’t feel comfortable driving.

His response:


“I give up”.

I know it’s a lot for me to ask for such flexibility but I can’t help but wonder with a person with such complex issues I should just neglect the concept of friends.

Another friend told me I won’t be getting a Christmas card and why.

Where is the balance?

Where is the compassion?

I know I am being far from perfect, but I am trying my best

with a chronic illness,

Is the best thing to do, is just isolate yourself and be alone.

It seems easier at best.

29 thoughts on “The Short End Of The Stick

  1. Lots of good advice here! The fact that you were upfront about your medical condition and let them know you might have to cancel is something I would appreciate from a friend. It would encourage me to have a plan B like being prepared to stay home and read. My guess is that these people are so caught up in their own issues that they have forgotten about compassion. You are a good friend, Harlon. YOU have compassion, plus, you’re smart. Don’t give up on friendship. There is much to be gained.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks JoAnna for a great comment and it got me thinking, I think this is all about communication. I have been clear about my limitations but maybe I need to be more assertive about my needs. I’ve had plans that I simply had to cancel because of seizures that I was unable to drive, I wonder if I was forthright enough to say, I still want to get together, but I need you to pick me up. Friendship is a two-way street (I feel like I am kind of taking the high road here, but heck, I do not ever want to lose sight of the high road)>
      xo Harlon

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you’re on the right track here. Of course you wound’t drive if there was a seizure risk. I wonder if your friend knew this. Suggesting alternative is a good idea. May you find peace and quality friendship on the high road.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Life is tough to begin with; life with a chronic illness would be even more challenging. It is difficult to make plans with a dear friend and have it cancelled at the last minute. Especially, when you have made special arrangements to make it happen.

    When my dear and late friend was undergoing treatment for lung cancer, we could no longer get together for our monthly lunch-meets. I began meeting her at her home. On one occasion, she cancelled. Happily, she caught me just in time before I left home for my two-hour bus ride to her home. We settled for remaining in touch by phone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rosaliene, I think you are brilliiant, I think these situations create challenges that we aren’t necessarily equipped for. Compromise and thinking outside the box can be just as good as a hug. xo Harlon


  3. Harlon
    I understand the difficulty of planning, it’s very hard. If friends know you’re ill and may have to change plans, you’re being forthright. Could they get sick at last minute and have to cancel, of course. If it’s to much to understand the struggle of chronic illness, they weren’t your friend. I’ve lost my friends, even the one family member, my brother. It’s sad but the problem it’s mine. You work hard on your health and the day may come when you get a few breaks to get out more consistently. Keep your head up and shoulders back, the so called friends don’t know what they are missing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think others have said this far better than I could. It broke my heart to read this. What you are facing from others is not a reflection on you, nor is it in any way deserved. All you can do is be the best person, and the best friend or loved one or acquaintance, you can be, which is what you do. Some people seem to lack compassion, empathy and understanding, and I find that so incredibly sad because having a chronic illness is difficult enough. Just wanted to send a hug you way  ♥
    Caz x

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh no! Isolation is never an option. I’ve learned only one thing if real value in my life so far and that is; if we live our lives too quickly we will become anxious and if we live our lives too slowly we will become depressed. One day at a time is the optimal speed in the human handbook. Travel through life at your own speed, Harlon. Let’s not hurry to the finish line.👍👊

    Liked by 3 people

  6. People seem to have different definitions of friendship. For some people it is necessary to see each other often. For others, like me, it is more important to feel close to each other, independent of the meeting frequency. But I dont’ think that one definition is better or more true than the other. Maybe we have to accept such differenes (I’m still struggeling). But it is always sad if such things and difficult circumstances lead to a loss of close friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Patience is short and always in demand
    No one truly is your friend until the shit hit the fan,the shit separate the men from the boys,wearing mens pants is a lot different than wearing kids pants ,there’s more to fill,I.have a lot less friends now a days because of my pain,I’m adjusting to my new normal,Harlon fuvkin if they can’t take a joke,life is to.short
    As Sheldon Always

    Liked by 2 people

  8. No. It’s not you because you let the person know ahead of time that you had health issues. Don’t change you. Change friends. As for not getting a Christmas card well I’d just say to them Bye and Don’t let the door hit you where the dog shoulda bit you. Please don’t allow people to guilt trip or shame you.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I hate disappointing friends, but the truth is, people don’t really understand what it’s like, and good for them for never having to deal with life-altering disease. I spent most of the day psyching myself up for a movie we’d bought tickets for days ago but wasn’t feeling up for – and I stayed home from work. Tomorrow night I’m hosting a dinner party here and trying to convince myself that just ordering chinese might be a compromise when I’m not feeling up to it tomorrow night either. Life will never be perfect. Enjoy good times when you can steal them and don’t waste thoughts on jerks who don’t deserve it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Harlon, my dear brother, I hear you ❤️. I’m going through something similar, albeit in a different way. But I feel your sentiments; your words ring so familiar. I’m so sorry that happened to you; you are the last person who deserves treatment like that. Please don’t take their junk to heart. Their treatment of you is much more of a reflection of themselves than it is of you. I have always thought you to be a wonderful friend 💚💙

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Garfield hugs Harlon! My take is, these are not “friends” but acquaintances at best. Move on, drop them. Better friends will come along and those who comprehend, have empathy and compassion are worthy to spur you on and stick thru friendship thick or thin. In the same vein, we do our best to be there for them too. Cheer up Harlon. Warm Garfield hugs to cheer you on. You will get better physically once your mind is happier. Take care🤗🤗

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Oh, man, that is such a hard one. Everyone with chronic issues has to deal with this. You have to take care of yourself, and not neglect that, even if at the expense of your friends – who are understandingly disappointed. I like what Psycholobitch says about it being a lot about the other person and what it is mirroring for them. They need to look at their own stuff. I’m really sorry you are going through this. It’s too much on top of not feeling well. More flexible friends would be good. Ones who believe that it is what it is, and not be attached to plans. It would have been nice for that friend to totally understand and either go with someone else, or come over with chicken soup and a movie. Congratulations for standing up for your needs. There are better friends out there. It is risky for friends to make plans with you, knowing there is a good chance they will be disappointed. You know that. You tell them that. If they don’t like it, well…they knew up front. But then you get treated badly. Such a vicious circle. No fun. You are such a great guy. I believe the right people will show up as soon as you truly believe you deserve it.
    Much love Harlon,

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Put on some heels, place your left hand on your hip, slightly limp your right wrist and say “girl,” at least once an hour, every hour. The people that are still hanging around weeks later are your friends. Dang, I need a pen name like Psycholobitch!

    Liked by 5 people

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