“Wow, I Really Thought You Were a Real Friend…”
Most people who have lived a decent amount of time with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) already know what I am talking about based solely on the title of this article. It’s not uncommon for people with MS to learn that the people they thought were their friends for years turned out to be the complete opposite. A friend should be there for you to try to make you feel better when you are down, to help you through tough times, to offer a shoulder to lean on, and not to always complain that “your life is too negative for them” because you can’t go out and do the things you used to be able to do before MS. It hurts to learn that someone you cared about, even loved unconditionally, only wants you in their life if certain conditions of their own are met (they may not even consciously be aware that they have these conditions) and when you can no longer meet them they simply walk away like they turned into someone else the moment your life changed. All because to them you are now just a downer…
Tragedy reveals the true colors of people.
I see it all the time with people online and even worse is when their significant others leave them! It’s sad to know that some people are not as loyal as they led you to believe they are. I have been there, my girlfriend (at the time of my diagnosis) left me after I was diagnosed. What really gets me is that I know that if I love someone (friend, family or significant other) I am loyal which means no matter what happens I will be there for that person but when I got sick and needed support it was “too much for her” so she just left. OK, I know, we were both young at the time but I see the same exact thing happen to people who have been married for 10 to 20 years so maybe it’s not just an age thing… As well, when I talk about “relationships” I do not just mean romantic, I mean any relationship between two people as in how a simple friendship is technically a relationship.
So I do not mean to highlight only the fact that people sometimes leave on their own because sometimes you have to be the one to kick people out of your life. Why is that? Sometimes after being diagnosed certain people in your life stick around without actually accepting that any change has occurred. Maybe they build resentment or something (I personally think that a lot of people are just not that great at the whole empathy thing) but for whatever reason they become toxic to you or maybe they always were a source of stress but before it was not even a big deal, just a specific trait that they had that you always ignored, but now you can no longer handle whatever stress they are bringing to the table. And now, the best thing you can do is end whatever relationship you have that is causing you more stress than “good” because we all know that stress is bad for you, especially if you have MS. It’s hard and can hurt to just “let someone go” but sometimes it’s necessary for the greater good of your own health. I myself have also had to terminate many friendships that were doing nothing but causing me stress, which was making me feel ill. Of course I always brought the issues up and tried to talk about them like a mature adult would but when, after all that, they are not willing to try you have to be the one to say enough is enough because how is that fair that you are the one paying the price for all the stress they are bringing into your life? A relationship requires effort from both sides and if someone is not willing to put as much effort into the relationship as you then that should serve as an indicator as to how much you actually mean to them.
“It’s not that easy, but it is that simple” –Dr. House (House M.D. TV Show)
This has greatly affected my trust in people to the point that I probably need to see a therapist. All I know is that I would rather have a few really close friends than 100 friends at a party. I am now much more careful about who I let into my life because I don’t even know if it is possible to completely avoid this situation so I can only try to surround myself with positive people to reduce the chance of things getting ugly.
What has your experience with various relationships been after being diagnosed with MS? How do you deal with these kinds of “toxic” people?