Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Road Less Travelled

It's remarkable how many opportunities we have during a lifetime to lose friends.

Really, if you consider, they are all crossroads. Maybe you went to one high school and your friend to another. Or you went off to college in another state while your high school friends stayed home. Regardless of all the promises to be "Best Friends Forever", you lost touch quickly and it was all for the better. You entered the world of work and bonded quickly with the people you found there. But on the day you got married and your best Buds stayed single, something happened. You tried to stay friends, but somehow it got harder and harder to get together and you became closer and closer to other married people. When the first baby came along you crossed another road. Good friends suddenly looked at you as if they were seeing a maniac. And all just because you couldn't stop gushing about poop and spit-up and breast milk accidents. Your friends were other parents from then on.

Then came the day you got sick. You probably were sick for a long time before anybody, yourself included, noticed. We tend to operate like that. But once it was undeniable, once you had a label, it all happened so fast.....

At first, there was an outpouring of love and caring. Friends sent flowers. Acquaintances brought over pots of soup and casseroles. "Let me know if you need anything," they said. And they meant it. But you kept on cancelling get togethers. You became the constant no-show. And when you did make it, there were all those other problems:

You couldn't stand the sunlight, couldn't eat that food anymore, couldn't walk so long or stay up late. And more mind-boggling, maybe you just didn't have money any more. Two incomes had become one income and one constant source of medical bills. You were no longer able to drop into Starbucks for a $4 cup of coffee every day. Even if you felt like it.

Friends had come and gone before, but this one hurt. You really did need them.

Some of you even watched your spouse walk away.

If you were lucky, there was one good friend who stuck it out. The loneliness felt like another symptom, one that meds couldn't fix.

How do you make friends when you can't even get out of bed some days? How can you feel attractive and interesting when you hair is coming out in clumps and all you can talk about is the latest med and its affect on your body. Where are those people who will fold you into their arms and close ranks around you, loving and giving you encouragement and care?

Well, many of them are online, in special communities devoted to the particular illness or condition they share with you. I got lucky. When I needed friends the most, I found compassion, understanding and friendship online in an online Lupus support group.

Some of your friends-in-waiting are in support groups in your community. Check newspaper listings, ask your physician, call the nearest hospital. They can put you in touch. There may even be mentors for your condition, people who have been where you are and can help you through it.

When you become chronic, your life will change. It is, after all, another crossroads. You are taking the road less travelled, not by choice but by chance. But if you can look around you and reach out, just a bit even, then you will find that others are also traveling that same road. They will see you as you are now rather than as you were. They will learn to love you right now, in this moment.

Don't be afraid. Reach out, even if it's just by phone or computer. We need friends and companions on the road with us. They make the journey worthwhile.

The sites where I found friendship and compassion were a Lupus organization
and a Sjogren's Syndrome site.

Peach and blessings,

I have included two links in this post for supportive online communities. If you know of others, please send them and I will include them in future posts.

1 comment:

jude said...

hey i have just found your blog, very focused. a good way to get to know you. you should add some of your sewing. a chronic life needs stitches.