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Losing Friends Due to Chronic Illness: The Other Side of The Story

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As time goes on, you begin to forge close relationships with people from all over the world who have the same illness as you. These people may be far away, yet nonetheless you share a closer bond with them than people you have known your entire life who live close by. You lean on each other. And while you might miss your old friends, the amount to which you yearn for the rekindling of your relationship is likely fantasized and amplified in your head.

The truth is, when it really comes down to it, and worse comes to worst, whose voice would you rather hear on the other end of the phone? The person you grew up with who lives nearby but leads an entirely different lifestyle than your own, or the person you only recently met online who lives on a different continent? That most of us would choose the latter in a heartbeat says a lot which begs me to ask the question, even if our old friends had continued visiting or calling us, would we not have eventually been the ones who stopped reaching out to them?

In many cases, I believe so. Not because we are rude and most likely not because we do not like our old friends, but because they can never possibly come close to understanding us the way our friends from all over the world whom we met in online support groups can. Just the same, is it then possible our old friends didn’t betray us or leave us, but rather that we simply no longer have much in common with one another?

Perhaps this is the case, the truth at the core of it all, because there is no doubt that illness and solitude forever change us. We will never be the same, we will never be the people they initially bonded with. They were friends with the old versions of us, not our illness induced reincarnations. They made friends with who we once were, not with who we are now. Likewise, who we once were held a much stronger bond with them than who we are today does. After all, the changes we undergo are in no way similar to the life changes experienced by the average individual. Ours are rapid and severe, their impacts permanently branding our souls and hearts with igneous iron that entirely changes who we are and endows us with a new set of eyes void of the veil hanging in front of our previous ones.

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