It’s Not Contagious

I don’t have a lot of time to write today but something has been bothering me and I just want to get it out and move on. I can’t help but notice how many people have dropped off the face of the earth since Isabelle’s diagnosis March 5. People have told me that this would happen, that you never know who your friends are until something like a child born with a disability enters the picture. I’m sure I will turn many people off with this, but I need to put this out there. My daughter has a heart defect and it isn’t contagious. You aren’t going to catch it, or bring some misfortune unto your household by being around me. What you are doing is making a situation even more uncomfortable for me, and reminding me how painful this is by your loud absence. Some people even do the virtual ‘bob and weave’ thing when I contact them- “Oh, I’ve been meaning to call…how are you?” What they are really saying is “I don’t know what to say and this is really difficult for me to imagine so I can’t imagine what you are going through and it is too much to deal with so I’m sorry but I can’t be around you right now.” 

When I first got sober back in 1993, my sponsor told me “When in doubt, do nothing.” She told me this because I am impulsive by nature and had a lovely habit of putting myself in situations that always meant trouble. I try to think of this when people don’t react the way I want them to, I try to remember that other people just don’t know what to do. It’s judgmental of me, I know it is- and I am sure it is just another character defect that I will have the pleasure of working on for the rest of my life. What I can say is I may understand where it comes from, it doesn’t alleviate the sting of being avoided. It stings and still hurts the same.

My husband has a better attitude about people than I do, which is why I love him. Without his perspective, I would probably have no friends at all, no house and no minivan. Look, I get that it makes you sad for us- because it is! But it isn’t making things easier by keeping me at a distance. If anything, it just reminds me that it is true- that you don’t know who your friends are until a major life change happens. I guess all I can speak to is my own actions. Well, here is my promise to anyone who has a major change in their lives: Regardless of how uncomfortable a situation may be, I will not go anywhere because it isn’t about me, it’s about being there for you. That is what makes me happy as a person- when I can be there for someone and it makes a difference no matter how little.

I told a dear friend once that I would never leave her, that I would always be there for her. I failed on that promise and lost her March 29, 2000. I never forgot that because those moments of self-centered comfort I received by not being there for her cost me my best friend for life. A few minutes of discomfort in myself isn’t worth the pain of hurting someone, and that is what pushes me to call people I haven’t spoken to in ages, wave happily at people I haven’t seen in years and say hi to people I know who are having a hard time. I am certainly not a saint, and don’t always do the right thing when the opportunity presents itself. My point is, please think for a second that maybe a simple hello will go a long way and we don’t have to talk about it- if anything I would love a break from talking about Congenital Heart Disease! I won’t shatter into a million pieces if you ask me how I am. I will return the favor, I promise!

Oh- to all of the people who have been there this whole time, thank you! Your comments, donations and just asking how I am is appreciated all the more. Thank you!


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