If Only I Was Who I Am NOW Back Then; Life Relationships
Most people, whether they have MS or not, think this same thing at one point or another; “If only I knew what I knew now back then, things would be different”. And it’s definitely not wrong because everything becomes more clear in retrospect. For those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, it can be hard to not look back at our lives, our past, our mistakes, our choices, our regrets, etc. I have always tried my best (since my diagnosis) to not look back and to only look forward, because when I look back, I tend to look back at the negative and not the positive. Even when I do manage to look back at my good memories they sometimes depress me, as it’s the memory of a time I can never go back to. That being said, I think my good memories can depress me more than my bad ones. So even though I am only 24 years of age, and I have had MS not even 5 years yet, I still find myself thinking; “If only I was who I am now back then… things would be different”…
What I quickly learned after being diagnosed with MS is that maintaining a healthy relationship while trying to learn how to handle this kind of diagnosis is no easy task. I speak not only from personal experience but from what I had read online of other people going through this. It seems like a good majority of people with MS end up breaking up with their significant other or getting divorced. Sometimes the significant other leaves because they cannot handle the extra stress of the disease in their relationship (or they are no longer fond of the person with their new extra “baggage”) or the person diagnosed does not know how to handle all the stress and they run away. That was me. I was young, as in a kid (because yes, I know, I am still really young haha, but MS has aged me more than my time on Earth has), and so was she. Throw in a disease that most adults in their 30’s and 40’s don’t know how to handle? There was just no way. I did not know how to handle the stress and so I ran away. MS caused me to start pushing everyone I loved and cared for out of my life because sometimes dealing with people was just too much and simply dealing with myself (though not always easy with MS) was less stressful.
Of coarse this was not what I was thinking at the time but what I have determined (in retrospect) to be the root cause of my actions. I have come to this conclusion after years of looking at myself and my life and wondering, “what went wrong and why” as well as observing/talking to other people going through similar situations. I began to see a pattern and I began to more than ever think, “If only I was who I am now back then… things would be different”. If I knew the things I know now I could have better handled the stress in my life. If I valued what I have learned to truly be important over the years, I would not have taken what I had for granted and I would not have destroyed the many relationships (and when I say “relationships” I don’t just mean romantic ones) I had maintained for so long; I would not have burned down so many bridges. It took the loss of some of my best friends, the girl I loved more than anyone I ever have, and many holidays spent alone watching other people have a good time to learn the value of what I had lost… or thrown away I should say. It forced me to think, “How can I change? How can I stop this from happening again?” and so, through trial and error, I have learned how to better handle the stress in my life. I have looked at myself long and hard in the mirror and figured out what personal flaws I have that MS was exacerbating. I learned how to treat those “exacerbations” and I really do feel that I am a much different person than I was 5 years ago.
Unfortunately, what they say about “not knowing what you have until you loose it” is true. I have lost so much over these years with MS and that taught me just how much I was taking for granted. Now I know what is important in life and just how fragile it can all be.
So, am I trying to present you with a step-by-step guide on how to manage relationships with Multiple Sclerosis? No, I am not, because it’s such a relevant problem, it’s so personal; there are so many different types of relationships which are all had by so many different types of people. Every single relationship can be damaged by so many different factors. All I can say is this; don’t just think about how they need to change but how you need to change. That I think is the best advice I can give to anyone dealing with relationship issues (be it a relationship between you and a friend, a family member, or a significant other). You need to look at yourself first. Is the problem strictly a result of their behavior or is there something you can do to change things as well? I say this because looking back I realize that there is so much I did wrong; I expected everyone else to bend around me while I did nothing and guess what? I made some jerk moves thinking that way; almost all my loss was my own doing.
When you love and care about someone you should do so unconditionally; you should love them because of who they are and not for who you want them to be.
So, if I could travel back in time and visit myself on the day of my diagnosis that is what I would tell myself. “Don’t think about how everyone else should change for you, instead, think about how you can change to better yourself not only for you but for the people you care about”. That is the soul purpose of this post, to get you to simply think about it all; maybe that will be enough to save you from suffering some of the same loss that I and so many others have.