Philosophy of Friendship

Don’t walk behind me;
I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me;
I may not follow.
Just walk beside me
and be my friend.
Albert Camus

An empty white page on my laptop. Too warm to write, too warm to make sense out of nonsense on my own. In fact, even when I’m not on my own, my non(sense) seems to consist of bouts of gibberish fueled by a brain roasted like a Kentucky Fried Chicken. No need to travel to the Mediterranean to have heatwaves; I never said life in Ireland would make sense.

In between July 1st and today there’s been the birthday of yours truly. No, I didn’t spend it drinking, smoking and getting high. As you know, said yours truly is of the non-party-animal style of person. I’d rather kick back with a good book, cup of coffee, intelligent conversation and enjoy togetherness with friends and family in a relaxed environment. Sitting together in peace and quiet, not feeling any pressure to talk… or having great conversations… heaven!

As I’m writing this, I feel my creative juices increase. Writing = heaven * 100. My left eye is causing trouble (sure, I wouldn’t know I had a left eye otherwise), but life goes on, and so does the rest of my MS-ridden body. Don’t expect ingenious matter just yet, I’m a diesel so my sense of adventure and exploration needs time waking up.

Obviously it depends on the type of people I’ve just been with. I have very loud friends from who I have to flee after a while because they are energy-sapping without meaning to. Their vitality is catching at first, but I feel I cannot keep up with them after a couple of hours, also without my meaning to. They know and understand why. While my general intellect stays intact, my concentration span goes from wide to around an inch when I get a blast of fatigue smacked into me. When this happens, it’s time to retire to my bedroom/living room/garden to just check in with myself and rest. I love these friends no matter what though, and luckily they understand my need for relaxation and rest.

Friends show their love in times of trouble,
not in happiness.

Euripides

Other friends are more like me; they enjoy a quiet environment where we can reflect and “just be”. We have philosophical chats about anything, from ex-boyfriends to books, from travelling to psychology and back again. Chats like this energise me and make me realise that friendship cannot be missed; you cannot go without. It helps you see the world in a different light, from a different point of view. By meeting friends, we share a collective view that can be readjusted if need be. Expanding views is what it’s all about.

I’ve met many extraordinary people the last 12 months, and every time I felt energised. I am grateful for each and everyone who wanted to talk, discuss and meet me. Being ill, you quickly learn your boundaries and limitations, but more importantly, you learn to accept others in similar situations. Having multiple sclerosis myself, I learned it was OK not to be OK. Healthy people don’t always understand this paradox, and it’s hard sometimes having to drill down the meaning of being ill.

Because of this, especially in the beginning of my diagnosis, I had to let go of others whose views on friendship differed from mine so much that they became unbearable friendships. While I became even more altruistic, they became more selfish. Seeing certain behaviours played out in front of me taught me that this was not who I wanted to subject myself to, after all my energy levels don’t reach very far and I have better things to do with my time. From them I wanted to hide somewhere really quiet, with a good book to remove any lingering negative afterthoughts.

It just depends on who you’re with, the loud and obnoxious ones or the quiet, introvert friends. They each bring out different behaviours in me, and blessed those behaviours be.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is
to understand and to be understood.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most.
I can better trust those who helped to relieve
the gloom of my dark hours than those who are
so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.

Ulysses S. Grant


©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Quirky, tenacious and neurologically compromised female expat living in Ireland since 2002 ◾ MyTherapyApp Best MS Blog for Simplicity 2018 ◾ Everyday Health Top 10 MS Blog of 2018 ◾ WEGO Health Patient Leader Award Nominee 2018 ◾ Feedspot Top 50 MS Blog 2017, 2018 ◾ Ireland Blog Award Finalist 2014, 2015, 2017 & Shortlisted 2018 (competition ongoing) ◾ Contributor to the Novartis MS blog Living Like You ◾ Contributor to MS Ireland’s blog MS & Me ◾ Contributor to The Mighty ◾ Guest contributor to MyTherapyApp.com

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