“Everything changes, and somewhere along the line, I’m changing with it.” Erik Burdon
Relationships can be tricky. We are a species who requires connections to thrive and survive. That is what makes it so challenging to our sense of security when those relationships have to change. There is nothing I fight harder against than the change of the dynamics of a relationship that has been working for me. However, sometimes those changes are futile to fight against.
When I look back say ten years in my life, there are so many relationships that have changed, and some just have ended. My husband and I were married going on eight years ago, which to me is not that long ago. When I looked through our guest book the other day, I was stuck by how many people in the pictures are not in our lives anymore. Some sadly have passed away, and others have just faded from our lives for various reasons. Some were work colleagues that I no longer communicate with. Some are friends that I still touch base with from time to time, but our relationships have definitely shifted. Some of that is just how life goes, but some of it is definitely related to having a chronic illness that causes my abilities to decline. I no longer am in the workforce. It takes much more effort on everyone’s part to stay connected when you don’t see each other every day. I dont go out for drinks after work anymore. Although it can be hard to face that reality, I do not blame myself or others for it happening. Things change. New people have entered the workforce who have filled a space I previously held. And that is ok. I have also found new groups of people to associate with. I run groups for people with disabilities and have made friends there. I also have found new hobbies and likes. I am not really the same person I was 10 years ago. I am much happier with myself but some of those relationships just don’t work out anymore. I still like the people and I’m sure they still like me, but we are in different places in our lives. It is the same to me as friends I had when I was in highschool. If I go back to my hometown, if I see them, I will say hello and see how they are doing, but we just do not keep in touch. That is OK. That has been a big lesson for me.
Sometimes we just outgrow, or rather grow in different directions that people who cross our paths. Some relationships are deeper and definitely require more of a grieving period. I have had several friends in my 43 years of living that were life changing relationships. When one of those is lost, there is of course sadness that follows it. Eventually, it is necessary to look at all the positive things the friendship taught you. Sometimes that lesson is to know what you are not alright with having in your life.
All relationships change. When my husband and I were dating, I was completely able-bodied. I did not suffer with anxiety. My fatigue level was normal. I used to clean the house every week. I managed all of our finances. I managed our schedules. I also was cranky and exhausted constantly. My husband got what was “left over” of my energy after work and other obligations. So my marriage has definitely changed over the years. I would probably say it is better. I now need help from a cleaner and my husband to keep the house tidy and organized. I still handle our finances, but need help with developing new systems to do that. My husband and I both handle our social interactions now. In the past, old me was terrified at the idea of my husband starting his own business. A few months ago, we started The Rustic Carpenter, a business my husband is so proud to start. Although it is still scary for me, I am looking at what will make our life better in a different way, and am more understanding to what will make him happy.
Relationships with extended family have also changed. My mom now helps me with things I wouldn’t have asked her to before. I also talk to her everyday. I think we are closer because of these changes. My sister and I used to work in the same field. We used to talk about work all the time. Now we talk about different things. My dad and I have actually become a lot closer. I used to see him as not understanding me and I was always angry with him. Now, we talk more and seem to be working on being more empathetic towards each other. For that change, I am grateful. I am also closer to my aunt and uncle. My niece and nephew, I talk to more now, but can’t do the physical kind of things with them I could before. However, they do the MS walk with me and are very knowledgeable about my limitations. My in-laws and my husband’s aunt and uncle are also very involved in our lives now. I think everyone tries a little harder to keep connected.
A final area of relationships I wanted to cover can be a very stressful one. I have been very fortunate in my life that I have been able to maintain a long-term relationship with most of my health care providers. I still have the same neurologist who diagnosed me 19 years ago. However, even doctors retire, move or change their practises. I add to my medical team often when I find someone new who is a good fit, but I imagine it could be devastating to lose a member of your health care team that you have worked really well with. I have spoke with many friends about losing a doctor for whatever reason, and how difficult it is to just find a new one sometimes who is taking patients. Finding a new one doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to develop a great relationship with them, or that they will fit into you medical team well. That can create a lot of stress for people already dealing with illness.
The bottom line of this post for me, is that all things change. I think as humans, there is nothing scarier than change when you like the way things are going. One thing I try to remember is that not all change is bad. I used to feel that way. With my health, if my doctor said there was change with my condition, it was always a negative change. However, I have learned that in relationships with other people, change can be positive. Even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. I believe that everyone comes into our lives to teach us something. Sometimes it is something that maybe we felt we could have gone without learning. If we give that change some time, it can look entirely different if we use hindsight to look at it in the future.
“Some people we just outgrow. Relationships might end with no real explanations as to why. And when that happens, respect the shift. Honour the growth and understand that not all roots can stay planted in the same soil forever.” Alex Elle