By Kris McFalls
Beyond food, clothing and shelter, arguably the most basic human need is friendship. As humans, we need a true friend to share our hopes, dreams and sorrows with. But, for those with a chronic illness, a true friend is essential for positive health outcomes. A true friend is to the soul what immune globulin is to the body. That person protects us, gives us hope, and boosts our energy level. Charles Caleb Colton said, “True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.”
I think there are three basic levels of friendship: true friend, crisis friend and faux friend. A true friend and crisis friend are to be valued as highly as an irreplaceable heirloom. A faux friend needs to be dropped as quickly as a hot potato. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. So, I sought assistance from my family and friends. As I suspected, many of them had strong opinions regarding friendship. Here is a little of what I learned.
A true friend will drop everything to get to you when you are in need. A crisis friend will put you on their calendar to bring you dinner until the crisis passes. A faux friend looks for ways your needs can benefit them.
A true friend will pick up the phone when they see your name on their caller ID even if they are on the way out the door. A crisis friend will see that you called and send you an email to inquire if you need some help with chores. A faux friend will tell you they’re sorry they missed your call the next time they see you.
A true friend is there for you in good times and bad. That friend supports you and cares for you as if he or she were a part of your family. A crisis friend will admire your good times from afar, but will always be there to help out in bad times. A faux friend will be there in bad times out of curiosity, and then gossip about it later.
When you have a party, a true friend will stay away if they are sick, but still send the dish they promised to contribute. A crisis friend will be sure to wash their hands before grabbing any food and never double dip. A faux friend will bring a sick kid and rationalize it by saying, “It’s just the sniffles.”
A true friend will cry with you in sorrow, and then push you to move past it and find the silver lining. A crisis friend will send you a card to let you know they’re thinking of you. A faux friend is more interested in sharing your sorrows with others.
A true friend will laugh with you and is not afraid of laughing at you or at him or herself. A crisis friend will laugh at you only if you are laughing at yourself. A faux friend won’t get the joke.
When you move, a true friend will stay in touch throughout the years no matter how far apart you are. A crisis friend will stay in touch via Facebook. And, a faux friend will never be heard from again, unless of course, you become rich and famous.
Chronic illness or not, everyone needs at least one true friend. For those who have a chronic illness, a true friend is a lifeline. Tell us about your true friends. Who is there for you through thick and thin?