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Can I ask for some personal advice on how to appropriately share about my past?

Asked by Mariah (25876points) August 31st, 2011

I feel a long-winded one coming on – my apologies.

I struggled with a digestive disease, ulcerative colitis, all through high school. Being as young as I was, my peers couldn’t really understand what I was going through – they’d never been so sick. So my parents became my biggest support system, and I leaned on them heavily

When I started college I got sick right away, and while I could always talk to my parents on the phone, I still felt the effects of not having their support in my daily life. I knew I needed some support in order to deal with my illness, so I decided I needed to confide in at least one of my brand new friends. This was scary because I was just getting to know these people, and it’s a pretty personal subject, and I didn’t want to run them off.

My closest friend was one boy in particular, we’ll call him B. One day B and I were discussing how nasty the dining hall food was, and I jumped on the opportunity to breach the subject – I said, “yeah, my digestive tract sucks, and this food isn’t helping any.” And I was thrilled to get the reply “mine too.” Knowing that he could sympathize with my issues at least somewhat, I decided he was the person to tell. I was getting sicker to the point where it wasn’t something I could hide anymore; I was missing class to go to the hospital. So I sat him down one day and explained exactly what was up, told him the name of my condition and how much I had struggled throughout high school and that I was struggling now. In the past I have always blown off steam and handled the stress of being ill by talking with my parents about my worries, and I was really struggling not having that available to me in college. I felt that I needed a friend I could talk to about this, and B didn’t seem put off by it at all when I first told him, so I began to confide in him a bit more. But over the next few weeks he became a bit colder and more aloof towards me. I don’t know that it had anything to do with my leaning on him, but the more I think about it, the more I think it was probably really f***ing weird for B to have this girl he had only known for a few weeks telling him about her digestive problems.

The nature of my disease is not really a subject that people usually talk about in polite company. I know that nobody likes to sit around and listen to people bitch about their health problems – and it’s probably especially odd in the college setting. However, I have been sick for four years, and now I’ve had major surgery to correct it, and it’s just an enormous part of my life. Not only do I feel a need for some support when I’m away from home, but I just feel that people who are going to end up becoming my close friends really ought to know about experiences in my past that have shaped me – how else do I expect anyone to get to know me? What advice can you offer on how I should handle this better in the future so as to not run off anybody I would like to have as a friend? Did I completely cross the line with B?

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