Survivor's Remorse - Leaving the Demons' Door Open

My friend Diana has multiple disabilities and, like any of us, has good days and bad days. Unlike many of us, her bad days are slowly getting worse and her good days are starting to have further distance between them.  On the long graph, her health is unlikely to improve.

As I separate myself from the life I had with my second husband, nice but toxic on many levels, I am slowly getting better. My health, my attitude, my productivity...someone complimented me because he suddenly finds me bordering the realm of Attractive. I'm not impressed, but it's worth mention this time - today I am not wearing makeup nor did I make any effort to be presentable. Dood finally nailed it: I look happy. I am happy. Diana is happy, too, but she is not getting better.

We share many interests and have deep conversations, not often enough. Diana sometimes doesn't feel up to it, or so I assume - I ask how she's feeling today; she says she feels fine. I could believe I'm imagining the envy I see in the corner of her eye, even while the rest of her face is genuinely happy to see me. I don't think it's my place to press.

I could be imagining it, but I don't think I am, because I see her also look a little more tired in the same sentence. It's draining to be chronically ill, and being terminally ill has to be several layers of hell beyond that. You know you won't get better, and also you can't keep up with some of your friends and family when they do the things you used to do together.  In the coming days, you'll be able to keep up with even fewer of them. It's not going to get better; some days or even weeks, but overall not.

Tim, my first husband, lived for over a decade with a brain tumor type Astrocytoma. I would explain his pain and mood swings to friends, if they bothered to ask, after he blew up at them. The mood swings weren't the real answer, though; he was breaking up with everybody,  one by one. He wanted them to choose never coming back. He told me this. He told me how it felt to chase the words he couldn't catch, to know his reflexes weren't what they used to be and never would be again. How he felt horrible for finding people unintelligent and annoying with their niceness. He wanted to be nice, and he wanted the company, but he couldn't fail in front of them while they didn't even notice. He couldn't bear it if they did notice.

I asked if he couldn't just tell them to go away and come back later, instead of yelling. No, he said. He didn't want them to come back. It's unfair of me to infer Tim's narrative from what Diana doesn't say. Knowing a thing never makes it easy.

I'm getting better, stronger, healthier every day. It's hard to see Diana sometimes, and feeling the challenge compounds the guilt I feel for being the healthy one. Diana doesn't want me to hedge my success stories. She's happy and genuine, so I focus on that. I want to lend her some of my newfound strength, if she can use it. And I want her to feel envy, if that's what she wants. I'd give her anything, even envy.

I try to let her know that if she wants to share unhappiness with me, to let out some of her demons, she can do that, and I will still love her. I ask her how she's feeling today, leaving the door open just in case.

To be honest, I don't know how I'm going to take it if she decides to let her demons fly. 


  1. You know the demons are there. You know how you lived in the middle of them, once. You were the rock. You will go away and come back the next day. You will not just "Go away." :-(

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