Friends forever?

Friends Forever! … Or Not?

So what do I mean by that title… Well, here are a few thoughts that are running through my head:

  • Friends Forever! Until you get sick or something…
  • Friends Forever! Until you can’t do everything I want to do…
  • Friends Forever! Until your life changes because of a diagnosis…

I know that this doesn’t go for EVERYONE diagnosed with MS… but for me, it happened. I was diagnosed when I was 22, so age can make a difference in how your relationships/friendships change.

To simply put it… change happens. Whether you like it or not, it does. I didn’t see a drastic change in myself after my diagnosis, but that could be cause I was in some sort of shock… but looking back now, I can see that change. Personally, I don’t feel that it was a bad change at all.

It has been 4 years since I was diagnosed with MS. I’ve grown as a person. I’ve also just grown up in general. Things that used to bother me, don’t (Well, not EVERYTHING.) But you get the idea. A lot of time has passed and I’ve been through a lot within the past 4 years.


Do I do the same things that I used to? No… Well, mainly the socialization part of it. Am I being anti-social that led to this? No… I just don’t have the same group of friends now that I did back then. Yes, I’m anti-social to an extent but not on purpose… we all know that we have a bit of anti-socialism in us, where we just want to be a couch potato… or we just aren’t “up to socializing”.

Do I want my “old life” back? Nope. Well – I could go without having MS, but then I wouldn’t have all of you awesome readers/followers. I also wouldn’t have met my ‘MSWorld Family’.

Now just to let you know, I don’t just keep to myself and never talk to anyone. It’s actually the opposite of that. I talk to my family/friends that I have gained through MSWorld.org everyday. The only time I don’t talk to them on a daily basis is if something is wrong with the internet/cell signal, etc. You get the picture though, right?

As of now, I have a great support system of friends there for me when I need them. But after I was diagnosed… not so much. And I can’t say that there is any blame to be given because if your life changes, so do other things in your life.

When I had this big fat diagnosis thrown in my lap… how could others my age really relate to what I was going through? Especially when the diagnosis/my health was all I could talk about at the time because honestly, I was freaking out. But then – when I noticed some dis-interest in talking about my diagnosis, I started just drifting away from those friendships. It wasn’t intentional; I think it was more of a natural response on both parties. Now let me just clarify that this is how I’m viewing the situation NOW… not then, or even a year or two ago.

When those friendships ended, my anger/frustration found a way to break free. I felt isolated and abandoned and I was really upset about it. At the time, my mind set was… these people were supposed to be my ‘best friends forever’ but forever didn’t seem to last as long as it was intended.

Am I still upset about this, yes I am. But there is no anger towards anyone anymore. Even if they were just friendships and not ‘romantic relationships’ it felt like a break up in a way. I was losing so much of my life as I knew it… then I lost, what I had thought, was my support system.

Now, just to be clear, this is my own personal situation that I dealt with. I know that others diagnosed have had completely different situations of ‘abandonment’ from friends, significant others, etc. So, I just wanted to clarify that this isn’t me comparing the situations. I just wanted to voice the realization I had with friendships that were lost after my diagnosis of MS.

I’m also just speaking about the friendships that I had, where we grew apart… Not the certain ones where I was dropped like a hot potato. I like to say I can forgive people for mistakes… but there are something situations/hurtfulness, that just stay with you and aren’t as easy to “just let go” of.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

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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.

Comments

View Comments (26)
  • Connie
    4 years ago

    It’s mostly my fault..I am afraid to go out because of falls, and bathroom concerns.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    Aw I’m sorry. I used to be that way – but now I have taken ‘precautions’ in case anything did happen. Like where they can easily access my emergency info – through my iPhone and American Medical ID.

  • Mgroz
    4 years ago

    My husband and I had been married 32 years when I was diagnosed with RRMS. Our two sons were out on their own, I was still working at a hospital in a job I loved. I was able to work 2 more years before I had to stop. My marriage was rocky due to constant job problems for my husband, bankruptcy, and it all just fell apart. I tried to hang on for afew more years but he didn’t want to deal with my disease and how our lives would be affected. I divorced him at 37 years of marriage and have moved on. It was without a doubt one of the hardest times of my life and the stress almost did me in. But I recovered and have helped be a caregiver for my 100 year old Mom. I’ve journeyed to a place where I am needed and I will never regret having these extra years with my mom.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I’m sorry to hear about the struggle you’ve gone through. But I’m glad to hear that you are happy and got the extra time w/ your mom.

    Best Wishes!

  • D-bob
    5 years ago

    I have become almost completely isolated, my wife divorced me because “I couldn’t participate in the future she wanted” (her exact words) and, my so called friends stopped calling when I could no longer go out with them and do the things we had always done.

    After these experiences, I find it almost impossible to let anybody get close to me. I know it isn’t particularly healthy, but I sometimes go for weeks without hearing another voice or seeing a human face, except on TV or the computer.
    I don’t use “social media” because I don’t consider sitting at a computer as “socializing” and I don’t consider typing on a keyboard as “communicating.”

  • But You Look So Well
    4 years ago

    D-bob, I am so sorry! That absolutely stinks. You know that says everything about her and nothing about you, right? But she still left you, so I don’t know if that helps at all. When i was first diagnosed at thirty, I lost a bunch of friends who just didn’t want to deal with my illness, and when I had a REALLY bad exacerbation at 44, I was no longer able ot work, and lost a bunch of friends becasue of that. I am an introvert, so I minded somewhat less and preferred being on my own, but at least my dear husband stuck by me. He said, “the vows said ‘In sickness nd in health.'” He’s a rare one. I hope you have found ways to stay in communication with a support community. Indeed, if you can post comments on multiplesclerosis.net, I’m glad you found this community. But it would help if you could see people and touch people and hear someone’s voice speaking to YOU. Are there support groups near where you are? ; I hope so. And I hope you belong to Facebook, because I sometimes think some of my closest friends are the folks I talk with there. Certainly there are a lot of people who share my other interests! D-bob, please know that you are in my prayers, and that I’m really glad you spoke up here, and keep it up!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    Oh wow… I’m sorry to hear about your wife. When I hear about situations like these, It just proves how weak the person is for leaving because of their spouse getting diagnosed.
    We don’t have a ‘choice’ in the matter when it comes to “dealing” with MS… so we just find our own way to make do.

    I know that it’s hard to believe that ‘socializing’ isn’t really on the computer… but really, that’s what I do. Because I can’t go and ‘hang out’ all the time, especially right now in the Summer in Central Texas. So I just chat online at MSWorld, or on FB… etc.

    I may come off as a computer geek/loner… but it makes me happy… so at least I have that.

  • Lefty Lib
    5 years ago

    This is more common than you may have realized, Ashley! Years ago when I went to therapy, my psychologist tried to warn me this might likely happen. I had a very hard time accepting it, though I had already been seeing signs. I am still relapse-remitting after 24 years but have lots of invisible symptoms others aren’t aware of unless I share. These are the same symptoms many don’t want to hear all the details about. So that leaves us frustrated that people don’t understand the extent of our difficulties because they often gage their opinions based only on what they can see. I’ve actually gotten into a major confrontation with an old friend who thought I was bs-ing her over saying I wanted to see her grandson when she plastered all of his pictures on Facebook. Only I would have had to drive a distance and in the summer would be pretty difficult. So because I expressed the desire but couldn’t come through with a specific date, I got blasted horribly for making excuses, etc. It was horrible and so hurtful she didn’t get it. And over time, while I tried to forgive her and she tried to act as though she understood, the relationship broke over some of her actions. This caused tensions with the other two ladies we all grew up with, and these same ladies had similar problems with me and my MS, so nothing is the same now. And I am 54 and literally grew up with these ladies since grade school. I haven’t even mentioned my family, and how my father’s third wife just so happened to have MS as well. When I began my injectable therapy in late ’94 and she was also in the RRMS stage and fully able to walk up their two flights of stairs, she chose not to go on therapy and once said to me, “what good is it going to do, anyway?” Ten years later with my father also gone, she is in her wheelchair and requiring full-time assistance. Along the way as she started declining, it was “selfish and too self-centered” of me to complain about what I was experiencing or want to be asked about what I was going through. So in terms of friends and family support, other than my partner who is pretty burnt out and has his own worries currently, there is none for me except a therapist the county pays for. This therapist just replaced another therapist who had told me she’d be sticking around for some time, but then left after six months. So this support I’m getting now means I have to start from the very beginning to explain my issues and that, my friends, is exhausting!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    Oh wow… I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I can’t even imagine having to deal with all of that for so long.

    I have people who still check in w/ me and talk w/ me… So I’m thankful for that. but they aren’t the same ‘friends’ I had before I was diagnosed… they are new ones. I kind of started out w/ a “Clean Slate” when it came to friendships.

    I know it’s easier said than done – but I’m glad that things happened the way they did. I’m not the kind of person to keep my mouth shut when something bothers me… so I’m glad I don’t have to deal with rude, selfish “friends”.

    Stay strong!! I know it’s easier said than done… and you should check out MSWorld.org… I would probably be a completely different person, had I not gone there and met the people I did.

  • Ty
    5 years ago

    I never had too many friends to begin with. The ones who don’t live in town, still remain in contact. The locals have all but disappeared. I was 48 when finally diagnosed and treatment started. While I still don’t display a lot of outward physical symptoms, I have become very limited in what I can bite off for activity. As a result, my active oriented ‘friends’ all dropped me because I couldn’t keep up. Some even called me ‘retarded’.

    After the hurt wore off, I realised that there are definitely different levels of ‘friendship’ and some had outlived their lifespan.

    Thanks for broaching the subject.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you as well… it’s never something that I want to have ‘in common’ with others… but sadly, it happens more frequently than people like to acknowledge.

    I’ve just come to the conclusion that I am who I am – and if they don’t like it… there’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out.

    I don’t have time to deal with drama/negativity in my life… stress isn’t good for MS’ers… so I do what I can to avoid it.

  • teresal
    5 years ago

    This story really reflected my own experience – I think that there are some people who just don’t know how to deal with the challenges of others. But I have found that even saying the wrong thing is better than ignoring someone – at least you don’t feel invisible. The friends who do remain are that much more precious. While I don’t want to be identified as “the one with MS,” it is a part of who I am, and it does reveal itself in some aspects of my life. The hurt involved with the loss of friends becomes part of the internal, invisible damage MS wreaks. I guess it is part of the life process, and sharing with others who have also experienced these losses is a great outlet. Thanks for the venue to do so.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    **Hugs**

    I know it’s never easy to deal with this… and MS already takes away so much from us, or limits us from things… this just adds to the list.

    But in a way – i’m glad that I didn’t continue on thinking that my ‘friends’ were there for me for everything… now I can focus on the more positive things in life – and my new friendships.

  • rbtstewart@att.net
    5 years ago

    I’ve lost friends, but it was incidental to MS. MS caused me to reflect on life, my life and where it was all going. I reevaluated friendships and beliefs. I looked at society, my country and adjusted my fundamental values. I pondered the meaning of life. I discarded certain beliefs I valued all my life in favor of what I believed to be my obligation to figure out the meaning of life. What I found was that I was transformed from Polyanna to a cynic who was disappointed in the principles my fellow men had abandoned in favor of a “what are you going to do for me attitude.” I found great disfavor with the collective approach to life because MS taught me that only I had the power to defeat the feelings that loss of ability stirred deep within me. Yes, I had friends and others with the disease that I could draw from, but in the end I had no crutch to hold me up. I had to come to the realization that only I could defeat the feelings of hopelessness that seeped into my psyche. As I stated in another article, I found my best medicine to be humor and laughing at myself instead of crying and wallowing in self pity. Of course, it was much easier for me because I didn’t have small children to raise which adds a whole new dimension to the survival game. I believe that I have come to the conclusion, unlike most, that the individual is the key to exorcising the demons of physical and mental disabilities. It doesn’t take a village unless one can’t cope with the fact that the physical nature of life has changed and life demands that you adjust to it. Others can help, but in the end, you have the power to adopt the attitude that you will be thankful for what you can achieve, one day at a time. I now spend more time worrying about my grand kids than worrying about myself and treasure the time I can spend with family. I guess it ties into the fact that at my age, I’m not sure how many days I have left. So I value what friends I have and those that I have lost, I find solace in pleasant memories.

    Pleasant Times

    Life is full of surprises
    Stormy evenings and bright sunrises.
    Regardless of how we keep score
    Some days are less, some days are more.

    But of the days that I remember
    I recall a cool November.
    Of hours passed in pleasant chatter
    Recounting things that really matter.

    And as the hands of time raced by
    They went so fast that even I
    Didn’t realize how long we stayed
    Or how many moments we replayed.

    When I reflect upon one night
    Basked in the glow of candle light
    As I recount my pleasant times
    I’ll think of you as one of mine.

    Bob Stewart – 2000

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    I love your attitude.
    I know that not all of our situations are the same – but I too am someone who tries to find the positive in life.. NOW. When I was first diagnosed, not to so much.

    NOW… I am the person who tries to make people laugh… I use my sense of humor in all aspects of my life, even MS. I try to laugh more than I cry… Smile more than I frown…

    All we can do is try to live our best life that we can, with MS alongside us for the journey.

  • Newhon63
    5 years ago

    I was diagnosed with MS and my wife lift me. There were other issues going on, most of which I was unaware was even going on, she stayed for awhile after my diagnosis but ultimately she decided she wanted to be free. She attributed it to a good many things but contends that being unable to work and the resulting lass in money coming in and activities I could no longer engage in were not a factor.

    I look at my MS as a filter. People can easily say they are your friends when things are great but it is when things are bad is when you find out who your REAL friends are. The ones that truly like you for who you are and not for what you can give them.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    Oh I like that comparison… MS= Filter..
    SO TRUE!

    I honestly didn’t even put two and two together to come up w/ that – so thanks for that. I’m going to remember it.

    I’m also sorry that you had to go through what you did. I know it’s never easy to lose someone and go through the emotional turmoil & stress of the situation, but I think that we come out of these situations, better in a way… stronger.

    xoxo

  • Newhon63
    5 years ago

    MS separated the ones I can count on from the ones I could not. Do I wish I did not have it? Of course. But I do have it. That is a fact. At least it has done this for me. In that, I am glad. In a way MS had the unintended benefit of revealing people’s true nature that I may never have discovered otherwise.

  • Terri
    5 years ago

    I am having the same problems with friends. They post on Facebook all they are doing etc. and it makes me sad. I us a walker I know I am slow, I would still like to do some things. They don’t even ask me. So I guess in reality they really not my friends. I get very depressed about it. I am making some new ones.

  • rbtstewart@att.net
    5 years ago

    Terri, the one thing I loved was fly fishing and now with MS, I don’t have the balance to wade rivers and fly fish. But I love to hear about friends who continue to fish and up-date me on their exploits. I fish vicariously through my friends and Blue Ribbon Flies Newsletter from West Yellowstone MT. The images they send take me back to some of my most pleasant times and keeps them fresh in my mind and I am grateful.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    Those friends are just… not friends – I think you realized that as well.

    If they were friends… there wouldn’t be any lack of communication or issues in the relationship.

    xoxo

  • Tonia
    5 years ago

    I was diagnosed at 44. I have lost a few friends, except for my best friend of 45 years. She has always been by my side since we were 5 years old. Things have changed a bit because of my mobility issues, but we are still as thick as thieves.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    That’s awesome! I’m so happy you have a friend like that !!!! There needs to be more friends like yours!

  • Carol
    5 years ago

    I found it very difficult to keep friends. People just kinda just drift away, they don’t want to be around people that are sick or don’t know what to say. Plus for some of us, it is not always easy to get around – mobility issues. It is sad because now is the time when we really need friends and family to be there for us.

  • rbtstewart@att.net
    5 years ago

    I pushed most of my friends away because I did not want them to feel like they had to invite me to do things that I could not do. Then I realized that I didn’t have the right to think for other people. If they couldn’t include me, I just had to understand their problem and find people who understood (or tried to understand) what I was going through. It worked fine and I find that if I write about things that bother or upset me, I can quickly resolve issues. I write poems and stories and published a children’s book for my grand daughter. Writing about my feelings keeps me centered.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    5 years ago

    Yes… I completely understand.

    It’s like when you need something the most – it’s not always there for you. Which is just… sad.

    It just goes to show you who your true friends are… and like it was stated above in one of the comments… MS is like a filter – it filters out all the people who weren’t true friends in the first place.
    xoxo

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