One thing multiple sclerosis has done for me is weed out the people in my life that were only there for the ride, not the journey… and living with MS is definitely a journey. When life is going good, it’s easy to find people to hang out with. Add a challenge or need peoples help on a regular basis and most of those so called friends disappear.
So many times people proudly boast about the great numbers of people they know, but are those people really friends? I can almost guarantee that a majority of them are what I would consider fair-weather friends. They will pretend that they like you when things are going well for you, but the moment things begin to turn bad they gradually begin to distance themselves from you.
I’ve noticed that people seem to be great at hanging around when they are getting some type of reward or kick-back for being your friend. You know, the free food, tickets, perks, support that you are able to send their way, but when those things dry up and you become the one in need of their continued help, they suddenly have other things more important to do.
Life has taught me a few things—I guess you could say the hard way—about people. I have learned what true friendship is…and is not.
A friend is not…
- the long list of people in your High School year book.
- the person who friended you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter or added you on Instagram.
- someone who attended your birthday party or says hello to you in passing at the office.
- the person who gives you a piece of gum or hangs out with you at the mall.
- someone who waves at you from across the room or invites you to their wedding.
A friend is…
- someone who is willing to go grocery shopping with you on the coldest, rainiest day of the year and allows you to change your mind ten times about what kind of cheese you want for sandwiches.
- someone who puts up with your moodiness, hangs in there through the tears and listens when there’s nothing left to say.
- someone you can call up at 3 o’clock in the morning to take you to the emergency room or help you with a flat tire on the side of the road.
- someone who holds your hand when you get a bad doctor’s report and who never judges you when you have a melt down.
- someone who genuinely wants to know how you’re doing.
- someone who never walks away.
A friend isn’t the person who SAYS they are your friend, who SAYS they want to help, who SAYS they will be there come rain or shine…they PROVE it by the things that they actually do.
I hate to admit it, but I know I have become less of a friend in return for many of the people in my life mainly because MS has exhausted me both emotionally and physically to a point where I don’t have the energy to maintain forced interactions or unnecessary conversations.
An exhaustion so deep that I don’t have the strength to hold someone else up without sinking myself. I’m at a place in my life where I am the one in need of support. A true friend will understand that and choose to stay anyway.
Hang on to those true-blue friends. You won’t have many…maybe one or two, but they are worth their weight in gold.
Living with multiple sclerosis will weed people out of your life, but in the end you will be left with the beautiful roses, orchids and daisies. Treasure the people that treasure you.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen