I Want to Talk About Me
Last updated: October 2020
I’ve written a lot about trying to get friends and family to understand even a tidbit of what its like to live with MS. Another thing I’ve written about is the importance of finding a good support system. Today though, I want to focus on one-sided friendships. I don’t talk a lot about my health to anyone but my husband and my mom. I know what I have, and I’ve accepted it, so I don’t see the point of complaining and sharing my worries and concerns with everyone else, even my close friends. Sometimes though, I wish I did.
I have some friendships where I feel that I pour my all. When they need to talk, vent, cry, whatever, I’m their loyal shoulder to cry on. Even when I’m having a flat out terrible MS day, you can count on me being all ears. However, often it seems that these friends are so caught up in their personal problems (that honestly seem so small), that they forget that I have my own mountains I face daily. Like MS. I understand everyone has their tough days and their issues, but please don't complain to me about how hard your day was hauling your kids all over town and how exhausted that's made you. And no, I don't want to hear about how sore you are from your workout. I know that these friends know about my disease. I know that they know I juggle a toddler with MS, so to hear them complain to me about things like that, kind of makes me want to punch them in the teeth. I’m only partly just kidding. But, come on!
Acknowledging an illness that is a major part of my life
Oh, and after their senseless complaining, they can't even stop to ask how I am...don't even get me started. All I can think when things like this happen is: maybe if I complained more then they could see how difficult, painful and exhausting some days are. Perhaps they would be more empathetic and thoughtful about the things they choose to complain about. It hurts to know everything I go through day in and day out and for that not to be acknowledged. Heck, sometimes it would be nice for them to take a breath from complaining about their life for a second and ask me how I am. I might even lie and say I’m fine, but at least I’ll know that they understand that I have an illness that’s a MAJOR part of my life. I’ll know they understand I have a lot of bad days and sometimes I need to vent and complain, too.
Shedding light on how tough MS is
I don’t feel sorry for myself often, and I wouldn’t say I necessarily feel sorry for myself in these instances, but I do want to feel like my friends care about my life, too, and that they're sensitive to what life with MS entails. I do want my friends to do research on MS, and see what it might be like. I don’t expect them to understand, but I feel like sometimes we need to shed more light on how tough MS is. Maybe, just maybe, those like me who hold it all in should complain a little bit more. We don’t even have to complain, just be honest.
Wanting to feel heard
I know I’m to blame for a lot of this. I don’t complain much. And, more times than not I’m not honest when it comes to how I’m feeling, because it’s too exhausting to try and explain. However, one thing having MS has taught me is that just because someone doesn’t look or even act sick, that doesn’t mean they aren’t fighting. That doesn’t mean they aren’t sick or hurting. That doesn’t mean they haven’t had a lot of bad days that week and may need to know someone is thinking about them. I love my friends; I have so many that are wonderful and supportive, but I do have those who forget to focus on anyone but themselves. And that’s hard no matter who you are! I thoroughly enjoy being a friend. I love listening to others and letting them know they’re heard and cared for, but every once in a blue moon, I like for that feeling to be reciprocated. I want to know that I can talk about me, too.
Does anyone else feel this way with their friendships? Is anyone else exhausted trying to care and listen to everyone else and not feel heard yourself? I know I can’t be the only one.
What does advocacy mean to you as someone living with multiple sclerosis? Please select all that apply: