I am almost 25 years of age. I should be out with friends doing the stupid stuff people my age do. Or maybe I should be in school living the life of a dedicated student full of aspirations? I don’t know? But what I do know is I should be being social. Unfortunately that is not the hand I was dealt and since my diagnosis the number of friends I have has dwindled to… well, not many.
But… that is not true because what I actually mean is the number of friends I know in person has decreased but I have developed many friends online, primarily through Facebook. It may not be the same as having someone to sit and talk with or having someone to hug when you’re having a tough time but they are still friends. A friendship is nothing more than a connection you have made with another human being who makes you feel good in one way or another.
With that being said, I have never met some of my best friends. I have built friendships online with people who I later met in person from people 10 miles away in this very town to people over 6,000 miles away in a different country. You see many of the people I grew up with, went to school with, or worked with slowly faded away from my life after I was diagnosed. I figure the things I have been going through are too “deep” for them to relate to. Kind of hard to complain about not getting tickets to some concert when I am complaining that I am in a wheelchair and can not move my hand. I guess I can understand; no one wants to hear about stuff that bums you out when you’re trying to get pumped up for some party and after you have told someone you can’t hang out because you are tired or simply incapable of doing whatever it is they want to do, they stop asking.
It was really hard to both lose friends who run away and to lose friends you had to push away because they were not promoting a healthy relationship. So you turn to your online friends. The many people on social media websites who have been through the same things; who understand. They know how to comfort you because they know what it is like to not receive that comfort. Soon you stop caring that people in your life are disappearing because you have found a community that accepts you for who you are and understands you when no one else does.
Some of my best friends are online; I have never met them in person and I may never but if they were to show up at my door at 4am out of the blue I would let them in and do whatever it is they need because when I was down? When I was broken apart and upset without any idea of what to do? They were there for me and they gave me the strength to push on. Strength. All through words. Imagine what they do if I could stand before them, look them in the eye, and hug them? Such a simple gesture can mean so much and even just to shake the hand of some of the people I know online would mean so much. Both ways; It would be great to receive a hug and sometimes I wish nothing more than to be able to hug someone; hold them and just make them feel like everything will be OK because after a while, saying it over and over, it doesn’t feel like enough. Or maybe it does to them but it is only me who wishes I could do more?
I am good with words. I always have been but sometimes I just don’t know what to say. In any other situation I would just lean in and embrace that person but I can’t do that for someone thousands of miles away and it breaks my heart. I don’t care what anyone has to say, having an online friend, a true friend, can be better than knowing someone in person. It’s all about the connection you share.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.