Following everything the guy at Complex Needs gave me to think about on Tuesday (which I haven't yet managed to bring myself put up here), it was the first visit in months that's really felt comfortable and guilt-free.
For once, the encounter wasn't tinged with anger or resentment. I didn't feel jealous of my friend's life, or annoyed that she was complaining when she had no reason to (and believe me, she has plenty of reason to complain).
I was able to sit and listen to her talking about her problems, to sympathise and offer suggestions. I felt engaged and included, instead of all the other times when I've felt separate and excluded by virtue of my pain-induced isolation.
I wasn't thinking about the pain, or how crap my life is. Even when I was talking about my recent troubles (the Complex Needs visit and the DLA), I felt relaxed and safe. I didn't need to take my fear or anger out on my friend. I felt like we were equals again.
We talked about the kinds of things I used to talk to friends about, like funny past experiences - the strange characters at my old Writers' Circle, the wierdo sci-fi creep with the wardrobe full of identical shirts and slacks, etc - and our favourite trashy TV - Strictly, obviously.
I didn't feel the need to apologise the whole time, because I know I didn't do anything wrong. Tuesday's appointment was a nightmare, but it was worth it.
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