Why I'm Thanking the Friends Who Left After Dysautonomia Entered My Life

When I think of the circle of friends and loved ones I had before dysautonomia entered my life six years ago and today, it has shifted. I have lost relationships I did not anticipate, and I have added others. There is sadness that comes with ended friendships. Some people  disappeared without a peep, others slowly faded. Still others make sporadic contact, almost as if by duty.

Perhaps some were tired of me being unable to do the things I used to complete; others uncomfortable with my  changing body. I may be too painful a reminder that even when you take care of your body things can go awry. Many times those with dysautonomia and other chronic conditions need to cancel plans or stop making them altogether. The disappointment of not being able to follow-through is immense. But it is really disheartening when friends disappear. We may be slowly excluded from activities even though we want to participate. My heart still hurts for those lost relationships but I would rather lose someone than be pitied or seen as an obligation.

Regardless, I would like to say thank you to the friends who left. I wish them happiness and especially health. I do not think anyone can truly understand loss of functioning due to health or the energy it takes just to do simple things. I am disheartened by lost relationships but I would prefer this than having people stay out of duty or guilt. I realized some friendships were one-sided and when I quit expending energy to call and make plans connections fizzled. I hope those who are gone never are in a situation in which health declines steadily and/or rapidly.

I want to also thank those who stuck by in the most difficult circumstances and showed love, despite my limitations. Like the person who watched my kids when I had pacemaker surgery and told me she was proud of me after I ran a dysautonomia fundraiser; to the friend who often sent cookies and other goodies over to our home. Or the family who brought dinner or just called to ask how things were going. I have learned which friends and family are dependable and in return I have tried to be a better friend and listener.

The greatest perk of this illness is making new friends who either have dysautonomia or another chronic illness. One of my most joyous activities thus far was going out for tea with a friend who shares this diagnosis. We met through mutual contacts and forged a long-distance relationship. After out-of-state pacemaker surgery I recouped a few days at her home.Three days after surgery we went out as I finally had a little bit more stamina. We laughed, talked and simply marveled at the opportunity.

And while we live in different states, we make it a priority to talk often and visit when possible. We support one another and help each other find the humor in our challenges.

Relationships, after all, are a true blessing of life.

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