Navigating Toxic Relationships When Living With Endometriosis

As a human being, I am supposed to be a social animal. However, when I am suffering from a painful endometriosis flare-up, there is very little social about me. Yet, having a circle of friends, relatives, or loved ones to lean on matters greatly when living with a chronic disease. When we have the energy and good health to be social, relationships can be incredibly uplifting. When we are struggling through bad times, having strong bonds with others turns into the greatest support system.

But when it comes to relationships, endometriosis is a powerful disruptor. It can put a world of strain on even the strongest of bonds. On the other hand, this disease can become a relationship filter. By this, I mean that in my case, it has helped me understand why certain relations were not OK.

When relationships turn toxic, it can be tricky to notice

I've experienced others expecting me to do things that are either non-attainable or bad for my health. Instead of saying no, I would go out of my way to meet expectations. On other occasions, I barely even raised an eyebrow if others became upset at me when my symptoms got in the way of social outings.

The truth is that when someone treats me in a negative way because of my illness, I tend to blame myself. I get angry at my own body and its limitations, instead of confronting those who are shunning me. Why do I do this?

Loneliness is a constant companion, and a driver

Because I fear being dropped as a friend, I've agreed to being social when in pain. More often than not, I have done favors when I was physically and mentally exhausted. I have repeatedly opened myself up to the wrong kind of people, and made choices that hurt only me.

My symptoms are not openly visible, which has made others decide there is nothing wrong with me. I took me a long while to recognize that those who expected me to do everything because I “look healthy”, or didn’t believe me when I said I was in pain, were not good for me.

It can be tricky to distinguish the good relationships from the bad ones

I wish I were better at deciding who is not good for me. I wished I realized sooner what relationships are worthy of my attention, and which are better abandoned. When someone rejects or judges me because of my illness, I must not become frustrated at my inability to be “normal”. It takes just a little reflection to see that relationship for what it is: an unhealthy one.

For my own wellbeing, toxic relationships must have no place in my life. Little by little, I am becoming more aware of each light dismissal or subtle eye roll, when I cannot do what others expect of me.

Life with a chronic illness is hard enough without having to cater for the unrealistic expectations of others. It’s taken me a long while to get here, but I now know it’s OK to be choosy about who I let into my circle. And one thing is for sure: I’d rather enjoy some alone time than suffer through lack of understanding and support from the wrong kind of people.

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