Growing up I learned from a very young age that most relationships never last. Long lasting friendships are few and far between. I learned that when people move away, or you move away and life changes, quite often the friendships you left behind end. In the work place and at school, the people you were close to in that environment very seldom remain close when that situation ends. I always say that if you were not friends hanging out together outside of the work or school environments, the friendships very seldom last because the common thing you shared no longer exist. And you have to learn to let go.
And so it is with chronic, sometimes debilitating illnesses. When you find out you have something that drastically changes the way you see every day life, something that makes things that were easy before, now difficult, you change as your life changes. And with that change you become different, and as you become different, the people around you, your family and friends, sometimes are not able to understand the new you.
The person that used to be able to hike, or party, or what ever you used to do, can’t do a lot of that stuff now. For a lot of you, the new you is in constant pain, weak, barely able to walk up a flight of stairs, always tired, just wanting to curl up in a couch and close your eyes to the outside world. But the outside world can’t understand that, can they? No one can understand what you are going through. No one but you. Not even someone else that may have the same illness as you because everyone experiences life differently no matter what.
Then there comes the time when that friend or coworker or family member can no longer understand or accept the new you. They either start to pull away, or they start to be different with you, questioning you, criticizing you. And it is that point you have to realize that you need to let them go. As much as you hate it, and how good a relationship you had before, it’s time to say goodbye.
If someone is unable to grow with you, and only wants you to be the person that they knew before you got your chronic illness, then they are a negative thorn in your side, and what they will do is actually hinder your healing process.
People always ask my wife and I what is the secret to our relationship. We are together now thirty three years, and all I can say is that first we are friends, best friends. We laugh a lot together and talk constantly. We also give each other the other the space to change and accept the change. My wife is not the same person I met thirty two years ago. I fell in love with that sixteen year old girl, and I constantly fall in love with every new version of her that comes along. And it’s the same for her too. You have to learn to accept people for who they are right now. Not the person that you knew way back when.
We all have to learn to live in the present, and have a relationship with someone for the now. Don’t look to the past of how you were, because that is never going to happen again. And sometimes when people change, we don’t like the new person we see, and that’s okay too. Relationships are like a cup of coffee. When you first get that hot cup of coffee, it’s delicious, hot, exciting. And then as time goes on, as the cup sits in your car’s cup holder, it cools down. The coffee changes. Either you say that’s okay, I like the coffee that way, or you say, I only want the coffee how I first got it, and you let it go. You could try to change the coffee back to what it was and add hot water, but it will never go back to what you first had. It will just be a watered down version of what you originally enjoyed. So, learn to let go without the guilt. And learn to be released without the hate or self flagellation.