Note: I saw a documentary recently in which I marveled at the flora that somehow have endured in the most difficult of climates and have even managed to bloom and reproduce. It led me to the following piece…
I was pondering a heavy question recently, which I have to admit that I still haven’t reached a comfortable position on but I have continued to wrestle with it regardless. The question, put very simply, is ‘should I be grateful to those who have stayed in touch since I have become this ill and incapacitated?’
Admittedly there have been very few that have actually chosen to stay in touch, but at this stage of my life and health I feel I can now be less inclined to ponder their motives or question their decisions. I feel I am far more able to just accept their choice in a detached way. There is an old adage that says “it is what it is” and I find myself using this constantly in life now.
For the few that have stayed in touch I prefer to think that they do so for the right reasons, which to me are because they enjoy talking to me, they have a deeper appreciation of who I am and they understand me on a broader level outside of my illnesses. Despite the fact that my illnesses now control a lot of physical abilities and choices, there is still another version of me that exists simultaneously and on another level.
We coexist as best we can.
One of the first things that illnesses and disability teaches you is how many things you took for granted. It is this painful truth that I now live with on a daily basis and I can never outrun. I took so much for granted previously that I find it hard to now witness these actions in others, so I stay silent as best I can.
A person who bemoans driving to the shops can never comprehend the devastation of losing your ability to drive and the independence that comes with it. A person who complains of having to walk too far in the parking lot can never understand the agony of not being able to walk at all. It is a different perception and a different reality.
For many of my former friends and loved ones I imagine I am the living representation of some of the things no one wants to ever be confronted with. So they look away. They go away. And I can understand it. I am sure I have done it myself in the past.
Which then brings me to realization that for those that have stayed on, endured and persisted with me, I marvel at our new reality and the interactions we have! They are built differently than those I have ever had before and this is an amazing treasure.
I will try to explain …
years ago meetings and outings with a friend may include discussions of recent events, activities, achievements, goals sprinkled with a few deeper moments discussing feelings and emotions about things. A recent holiday can be dissected and retold over and over, as can a failed relationship or financial concern. They were often a way of pinpointing how you were in relation to your peers. Thankfully this has changed for me now.
Today I get to speak with those that I keep bonds with on a range of topics and about the things that matter more deeply to us both. A find this far more rewarding. Perhaps because there is an unspoken understanding that we must make the most of our time interacting before pain and fatigue overtake us?
Those that have stuck by know that there is no need for pretense and feel that they can let down their guard around me and speak openly and honestly on a range of topics. It seems as though they recognize that I have wrestled with many demons and so they feel less inclined for hiding anything or concealing emotions, knowing there is now a depth and strength to the human condition.
After all this time being unwell and declining has weeded out those who are far more superficial or only interested in what I might be able to do for them. Of this I am truly grateful.
I have always marveled at how my husband transitioned into my illness better than I did. He once said that what he gets from me is far more relatable and understanding than when I was more physical and able bodied. He sees me with the facade of my external self stripped away. I hope that is what my current friends treasure too.
Reliving old times is all very well and enjoyable but the reality is we just can’t live there. We are not those people anymore and unable to go back. What I desire more than anything from my current special circle is that we are able to accept and work within the new reality and this version of me in a way that is respectful, treasured, rewarding and healthy. I don’t want pity, duty, false praise or obligation. I only make room now for honest and sincere interaction and acceptance and appreciation of the now… After all, that’s all we really do have.
I am glad of all those people who were present at each iteration of myself, but I especially treasure those that are here for this version and who hold on because of the love and happiness we share today.