Sadly, this is based on a true experience.
- Send a vague email that sort of sounds like you want get to know the Chronically Ill Person (CIP), who will get excited because no one ever wants to do that. But the vague nature almost sounds like a threat, so they will want to back out because everything has strings attached when you’re sick.
- Don’t take into account that meeting for coffee will require days of anxiety and preparation on the CIP’s part. They may have trouble bathing, grooming, ironing clothes, or getting dressed. So, even if you pick a time that sounds reasonable, it could take them hours to get ready, plus they may need someone to skip work to help them dress and put on shoes.
- Show up late. Don’t respect the CIP’s time. They respected your time and did everything humanly possible to make it, but you show up half an hour late, while only texting that you will be late 5 minutes before the meeting time.
- Make all of their worst nightmares come true. They opened up to you about being sick, which you will not understand. Trust me here. You cannot fathom what it’s like, despite how much the CIP describes it to you. Getting ready when you are sick is NOT like dressing your kid and putting them in the car. It’s much more painful because you are a full grown adult with shooting pains, who has lost the ability to lift one arm above your head.
- It doesn’t matter how much you say “this is coming from a place of love,” handing out advice, that is declined, is declined. Pushing it won’t change it. The CIP has been dealing with a team of professionals for years. So, offering counseling 45 minutes away when getting coffee 10 minutes away was an ordeal isn’t going to change from a no to a yes. When the CIP then makes it VERY clear that they have nothing against counseling because they have been 6 to 8 times, including all summer, along with the fact that the CIP is more well versed in the types of counseling, when you wouldn’t know the difference between CBT and DBT if it hit you in the fucking head, it’s time to shut up.
- Assume EVERYTHING. Make up lots of phrases like “I assume that you feel this way about x, so I assume you feel this way about y. How is that for you?” But… the CIP doesn’t feel that way about either thing! Put the CIP on the defensive the entire time.
- Act like the CIP is the annoying and needy friend that no one wants in a one-sided friendship. Especially, if the CIP doesn’t have your phone number, has never interacted with you in a one-on-one setting, and you’ve only known each other for a few months. Start that friendship off right. It never hurts to lay down ground rules like, “I can’t be all of your friends,” or “I’m not a trained professional.” (Just so you put the CIP in their place and remind them how awesome you are to be taking your time to be with them and that they might be a little bit crazy.)
- Assume that the CIP actually wants your friendship. Maybe the CIP just wanted to show up once a week and participate. Don’t forget to repeatedly point out how lonely she is and how that’s her only outlet during the week to get out. Pointing out her loneliness and making her admit that she has no friends is a nice touch.
- Repeat that you don’t mean to attack them often. It’s like saying “no offense, but…” It gets the job done. But meaner. It reminds the CIP person that you never wanted to get to know them or understand what they were going through. You lured them to get coffee with an ambush set up. You don’t understand in the slightest how it feels to be sick or even what it looks like to be this sick. You have one objective AND YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH IT because you hatched the plan that the CIP needed to see a counselor without knowing anything about them.
- Definitely end the conversation with a critique of the person. Something that could be addressed as a reminder to a whole group, but instead pick out the one new member and critique the CIP to her face. It’s a nice memory to leave with.
These ten simple steps will assure that the Chronically Ill Person will never show up at your community group again. The steps will assure that the person will stop attending church. The steps will assure that the person never opens up to another person again. The chronically ill person will no longer confide in her spouse, parents, doctors, or seek counseling because someone could just turn it around and throw it in her face.
So, if you hate someone, do this. If you want to love someone, DON’T EVEN TRY IT. How anyone thought that would work out well is beyond me. However, I hope that one day I can tell the girls who did that to me what kind of damage they have likely permanently inflicted because they wanted to be right more than they wanted to listen.
If you are sick/have a sick family member, what would you like to see change, with the way you or they are treated?
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