I think that when most people get an invitation, they accept unless they have other plans or expect to have other plans. Sometimes they might need to schedule a day to just rest and take care of personal stuff. I used to schedule a “me” day about once every month or two so that I could relax, read, watch tv, answer emails, pay bills, etc. But things change when you have chronic fatigue.
My mom wanted to go shopping today. Since money is tight for me, she’s buying me a new winter coat for Chanukkah (thanks Mom!) Scheduling-wise, this seemed like a good day, but I’m tired and in pain and there’s just no way. So I told her that and she understood.
Sometimes the person who wants to get together is a friend I don’t know as well. They don’t ask it as “Do you want to go out tomorrow?” but instead “Are you free tomorrow?” or even “Do you have any plans?” The connotations are the same and they’re all socially appropriate, but for me they’re very different questions. No, I don’t have plans, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get together with you. I might want to, but I just can’t. It’s easy to turn down the invitation once, but it’s harder to do that over and over with someone who doesn’t understand the situation. Sure, I could lie and make up plans, but I don’t do that except in extreme circumstances. My health issues are hard enough; I’m not about to juggle lies on top of everything else. Still, it’s hard to get people to understand the validity of, “I’d love to get together but I’m going out two days before that so I won’t be able to go out again so soon.” To most people, that just doesn’t make any sense at all.
Of course, then there’s the awkward, “Yes I’m free, and yes I want to get together, but only if you come to my place.” That might sound nice to some – I’m inviting people over, after all. But the truth is, I ask them to bring their own meals because I don’t have the energy to cook for others; I barely have the energy to cook for myself! I don’t “entertain” but instead stay on the couch while we talk or play a game. Since many of my friends have little kids, coming to my place isn’t possible if they’re busy caring for the little ones. Plus, so many of us get around on public transportation and getting to my place can take an hour or more each way for some friends. A good compromise might be to meet up in the middle, but if I’m asking them to come to my place it’s because I can’t do that, so then I’m asking them to spend a whole lot of time traveling to see me. This is ok from time to time, but not every single time.
For the close friends and family, this is all ok. Sure, it’s cumbersome and annoying for all of us, but they understand. They know that when the sun is shining and they’re at the park with their kids, I’d so much rather be with them than sitting at home browsing the web. They know that I’d like to invite them to dinner and actually provide it. They know I will gladly go to their place on the few days that I can. But for everyone else, it’s a bit harder. I’ve noticed that I’m getting fewer invitations these days. When someone gets turned down over and over, I guess they feel there’s no point in continuing to invite me. I’d probably feel the same way if I was in their place. Still, I’m choosing to focus on the people who’ve stuck around. Those are the true friends who I really want to spend my time with. And if I got my health back tomorrow (if only!) then those are the people who I would continue to spend time with.
So instead of shopping for a new winter coat to replace my old, torn one, I’ll be writing blog posts, reading blogs, watching tv, and reading my library book today. It’s not great. Actually, it sucks. But I don’t feel that I have a choice. I’m just hoping I’ll be able to go out tomorrow, instead. I’ll be keeping my fingers figuratively crossed both for me and for you and we’ll be able to get out at least a little bit this week.