Nobody likes adding positive tags to their own personality, after all, people don’t want to be called arrogant, out of touch or just away with the faeries. I also rest my case about awarding myself qualities, as articulating what I believe to be, is simply not up to me.
When left to others so, some people in my circle have referred to me as what they call a sensitive, or even old, soul, a big animal lover who loves campaigning against unfairness in society and someone who sometimes prefers books over that of certain people. While growing up, my mum always told me that kindness, caring for others and having empathy will benefit me as an adult, because not everyone has an easy life. Despite being a lone parent, she taught me well.
As a child, my best friend and I did a lot of role playing, acting out what we thought would be adult stories and/or emotions. In a way, it opened up a storybook filled with people, each with their own psychological qualities and mindsets. We talked for hours about how we would deal with these emotions. It was not always an easy task; nevertheless, I believe that my love for psychology was born during those days. Recognizing people’s emotions or ‘reading people’ came easy at some stage.
Despite a detour and studying library sciences, twenty years later psychology is still one of my main interests. After securing a diploma with merit in Counselling studies and a certificate in Psychology as well as a deferred degree(*), it should be easy so to think that being in tune with others would help me deal with my own cerebration. Since last year however, I have moments where I struggle trying to forget some alliances gone sour. I keep trying to figure out what went wrong, why, where and when, but I am not shown an answer to those questions just yet.
Moments of stumbling like this never last long though as a secret deal with myself forbids me from allowing myself to be dictated by family, friends or colleagues too selfish to be kept. But as you more than likely know yourself, when a tiny, bad seed is planted in your mind, you have to try hard not to let it grow out of control.
My frustration, in my eyes at least, is still valid. Living with an illness like multiple sclerosis is unpredictable as is. Besides not knowing if I will be fit enough tomorrow to walk around, or if I will be able to sleep at night of neuropathic pains, as well as dealing with a lot of doctors and medication, MS truly does change your life.
I do realise though, that from the opposite point of view, it must be hard for people trying to deal with someone who had to change out of medical necessity. It must seem as if the old me is long gone, and people around me had to accept a new friend in their life.
People should aim to be the kind of person they want to be best friends with. In doing so, you attract people either quite similar to yourself or you meet the opposite of what you are. What follows are close friendships, if not relationships. You hope that from now on, your family and friends will be there in good times as well as bad ones, and that everything in your or my life will be overcome no matter what the issue is.
In trying to learn what drives people, I sometimes become a person too analytical for my own good. But as any human being with a brain built to think, dream and feel empathy when necessary, I learned that not everyone has your best interests at heart. And at times, especially when acute or persistent facial pain and fatigue take over my day, learning to accept this is a mountain too high to climb.
Only then I become exceedingly aware that I am not the same person anymore. I could almost split my life in two, saying, “My life before MS” and “My life after my diagnosis”. The truth is, I did not ask for this diagnosis, others with a chronic and neurodegenerative illness didn’t ask for it, but yet, we all share the same common denominator: we are all changed people. Every single one of us.
Having a support network is imperative and at some stage, people – on both sides of the fence – move on from feeling resentment, hurt and anger. So, count your blessings instead. Feel blessed for having people in your life that care, support and would do anything to help out when needed. Instead of focusing on a few lost friendships, focus on the ones who stepped up.
Living with MS can be difficult and testing, but only if you let it.
(*) Deferred years ago because of diagnosis, still dying to return. Waiting for a great lottery ticket to shoot me back to university! :)
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