First, there is the look of fake concern. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Someone doesn’t really care, but they try to look concerned because they know that’s the socially acceptable response. I ignore those.
Next, there is the look of detached concern. This is the one where someone really does feel bad for what I’m going through, and they want to sympathize, but they’re not close to me, so their concern is more general. This is the concern you would feel for a stranger when you hear about something terrible they are dealing with. The concern is real, but it’s not personal.
Finally, there’s the look of pure, honest concern. This comes from a loved one who really cares. Their concern is genuine.
It’s this last one that’s haunting me right now. A friend recently asked me about my latest treatment. I answered her with the truth, something I don’t tell many people. She asked about other options if it doesn’t work. Again, I told her the truth. Now I can’t get the look on her face out of my head. She was really concerned about me. I wanted to reassure her that everything would be fine, but of course, I don’t know if it will be. I love that she cares. But that look just makes me feel bad. I hate that I’m making people worry. Of course, I’m not the one making them worry, it’s the illness that makes them worry. It just doesn’t always feel that way.
She is one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other for 22 years. (Wow, I guess I’m older than I thought.) We did our elementary school science fair project together. We’ve seen each other through divorce and dating and children and many jobs. Of course we care about each other. I just wish I could tell her I’ll be ok.