A pair of hands rip the corner of a photo of a group of friends. There is one person being cut out of the group.

Cutting People Out for Your Health

A chronic illness like multiple sclerosis can have a profound effect on relationships. Whether they be friendships, family, or something romantic, living with an illness like MS takes its toll. With symptoms that are hard to understand (and in many cases, even see), maintaining relationships can be difficult for both sides. While we often lament those that have left us because of our disease, there are times when we are compelled to sever connections out of necessity. Some relationships can be detrimental to our health and it takes a strong person to not only make that realization, but also to cut those people out of your life.

Drifting away from friends

Losing friends is a fairly common topic around these parts, and it’s one I’ve certainly tackled in the past, noting how MS has a knack for turning friends into strangers. A lot of these relationships end due to lack of understanding and when the person with the illness can no longer participate in the same types of activities as their friends. When you have less in common and can’t be present as much, people tend to drift apart. Simply put, for many people with MS, their lives can change significantly over time, which is bound to have some sort of effect on not only the people you consider close, but how you view and interact with them. Any sort of major life change will affect your relationships, and living with MS is no different. This dissolution of the relationship may not be desired, but can still occur organically.

Detrimental relationships

There are, however, other cases, when the person fighting the chronic illness must take a stand and cut people out of their life intentionally. I’ve spoken before about dealing with toxic people and the effect they can have on our disease. Of course, you want to cut out the people that you realize are toxic. That may seem obvious, if not easy. Those aren’t the only kind of relationships that may need ending though. I confess that in my past (and this is embarrassing and sad), I’ve slowly ended relationships out of a form of jealousy.

I was envious of others

When my disease progressed enough that I realized my future would never be what I’d hoped, I began to notice a lot of friends (and even family) living the life that I always wanted. It sounds terrible to say that I was so envious of others that I ended my relationship with them, but it was a way of protecting myself. Constantly seeing others, particularly those close to you, live the life you imagined for yourself doesn’t make the process of mourning that lost life any easier. In fact, it makes it pretty difficult to pick yourself up and move on.

I couldn't grow as a person

Maybe the word “jealousy” isn’t even the right word, because I was (am) very happy for those people. It was that it hurt too much and made me think too much about what I’d always expected and wanted for myself. I couldn’t move on, couldn’t grow as a person, without first getting away from that. That’s one example, but it’s one that demonstrates how a relationship can be detrimental to you without actually being toxic.

Advocating for yourself

It’s hard to come up with more generalized examples of people that I’ve had to cut out. There are too many specific scenarios that I’d rather not put into writing. Some of those people I haven’t completely cut out, but keep at a safe distance. Trying to categorize all of those potential relationships isn’t important though. Determining if a relationship is detrimental to you is an incredibly individual affair. I’d say that if you stop and look at all of your relationships, and there are some that are negative to your health or to improving your health, then it’s time to make some cuts. It’s time to advocate for yourself.

Listen to your gut

Again, it may not be that these people have been toxic or negative to you, it may be all on you, or rather, all on the disease. Living with MS can be a strange and challenging experience. Sometimes you have to make decisions that won’t make sense to people, but that you know will be helpful. If your gut tells you that you need time away from someone, you should listen to that. People can make you feel negative, without being negative. Is that on you? Of course, but not everyone can fix or deal with that stimulus for the negativity in the picture. Remember, not every severed relationship needs to be severed forever (though obviously, cutting someone out and regaining that friendship can be difficult). It may not seem like it, but you are fighting for your life every day with this disease. Sometimes, to put up the best fight possible, you need to be willing to make some sacrifices in the form of relationships that make you feel unwell.

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!

Devin

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