In recent times, I’ve found myself making some rough decisions when it’s come to friendships. Creating and maintaining friendships while suffering from Multiple Sclerosis can be extremely difficult, enough that I’ve spoken before about how MS can turn friends into strangers and strangers into friends. While it’s common for people to discuss how they’ve lost friends because of their disease, we don’t often speak about consciously removing friends from our lives for the same reason. I have found myself talking to certain friends less and even unfollowing them on social media of late because seeing and hearing about their lives saddens me.
The life I expected to liveWho am I talking about? The friends that are always taking trips, that are always out, that are starting or having families. The ones whose lives are going the way I thought and hoped my life would go. For a while, I admit, I experienced feelings of jealousy. I’m not proud of that, but I admit it. I was jealous that longtime friends were living the life I expected to live. I was jealous that they still had their careers, that they could go and enjoy a baseball game on a hot, sunny afternoon, that they travel, and date, and do everything without the giant weight of an incurable illness weighing them down. I was happy for them, but I was also jealous. I desired what they had so very much.
Envy changed to something worseOver time, my feelings of jealousy started to change. My envy eventually morphed into a different and far worse feeling: sadness. Seeing and hearing about their wonderful lives and the experiences that I’ll never partake in because of my disease became increasingly difficult. Vacation pictures moved me to tears (traveling is incredibly difficult for me), promotions felt like a slap in the face (I miss my career), and birth announcements felt like a punch in the gut (my illness has left me alone and at an advanced age). I can honestly say I fell in the pit of despair whenever I would get or see great news about some of my friends. What does that make me? It feels like such a terrible thing to admit.
In addition to the sadness their exploits brought me, I realized that the longer I was on disability, the longer I had this disease, the less in common I had with them. There is eventually less to talk about. Less in common. You have different goals and aspirations. Life changes, they go one way and you go the other. It happens all the time, with or without a disease involved. It just seems like a sadder thing when it’s because of a disease, when it’s against your will.
Tired of the fightOf course, I still care about them, and I am genuinely happy that their lives are going so well. At the same time, seeing it hurts me. I know that’s on me, that’s about how I handle it. People will think I’m a terrible person for saying these things, they’ll think I’m ungrateful, and even selfish. I swear I’m not, I know my life is much better than many people’s. I know I’m extremely lucky, and despite how this article may come off, I am generally a pretty happy guy. However, I’m human and I’ve been through a lot and I get tired. Tired of the fight and tired of seeing the things I thought would be mine. No longer wishing they were mine, but simply sad that they never will be.
Thanks for reading!