What others do

I am starting to appreciate that a friendship with me is not an easy thing to grow.

My very best friend moved to Australia recently and since then I have been blessed with new friendships, many of them. They may not be as deep or have the history I shared with Ryan but there is time for that to grow, the seed has been planted.

Since the accident six years ago I’ve always kept the same circle of friends, only the ones who knew me as I was beforehand. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just didn’t make new friends. I knew I was lucky to have the ones I did.

Over the last few months things have changed. I have needed to plug the massive hole in my social life.

When I contemplated meeting people for the first time, starting new friendships, I worried about how I would feel. I always have been, and still am, very confident but this was going to be a big step forward.

Would I be paranoid? Would I be quiet, defensive, insular? Would I feel like a burden? Maybe even a charity case? As I said, I was worried about how I would feel. I didn’t take the time to consider the feelings and fears of anyone else.

I realise now, thanks to the honesty of some new friends, that they had just as many concerns as I did. Probably more.

It was all new to them also. Should they mention the accident? Will they avoid looking at the machines and tubes? What do they do if I am unwell? How were they supposed to feed me? To give me drinks? Can they ask me questions about my disabilities? And the main one, will they be able to act normally with me?

I never thought about it, that is a whole lot of stress. I understand now that it would be easier for people to keep their distance.

That is why I am incredibly grateful to those people, my new friends. They don’t see the disability, they see me.

I have experienced the opposite many times in the past. I don’t blame anyone, they feel awkward and I understand that.

Maybe that was down to me. If I wasn’t ready to build new friendships I could have created the awkwardness. Maybe it was them, just not the kind of people who can see past the wheelchair.

Regardless, it is now that I have needed to widen my social circle. Call it fate or call it luck but the right people have came along at just the right time.

To those people, thank you very much.

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20 Comments

  1. I think we all go through periods in our lives when for whatever reason, one set of friends are lost or diminish. The need for new friends is obvious but I see many who do not make the effort. I have two distinct groups of friends made at two different times in my life. I would have a lot less fun in my life if I had not taken the plunge to find the second group.
    No matter what age we are, making new friends can be difficult. Well done you for making the effort and taking the risk.

    • I am already realising the benefits. I have very different things in common with different groups of friends and they do say, variety is the spice of life!

      Thanks for saying hello, I hope you are well

  2. I had the same feelings and thought about how others would act with me. I laughed about it and tried to put people at ease about the amputation. I’m happy to talk about it and fine with people who don’t want to mention it or talk about it. As long as people can see past the disability and can reach into the real person and your abilities they will probably make very good friends. It’s good to think about the issues that you and the other person will have, for them to do the same will help build a better relationship quicker and firmer 🙂 Glad to hear you’re starting to increase you social circle, not easy and it shows how strong you are 🙂

    • Thanks Helen. I knew you would ‘get’ what I’m talking about, that initial insecurity. Like you, I try to make light of the situation. Happy to make the odd joke at my own expense.

      As soon as new friends are comfortable enough the questions start flowing, and there are plenty of them. As you say, it’s a good thing to help the friendship grow rather than avoiding important issues.

      Thanks pal

  3. I always shed a tear when I read some of your posts and it is not from sadness but the awe and wonder of knowing a wonderful brave sensitive articulate amazing person like you. Cheryl

    • Not much I can say to a comment like that, straight to the top of the class. You’re my new favourite X

  4. Great post! No matter the circumstances I find as an adult it is so much harder to make new friends. If only it were as easy as it was in childhood. You didn’t care what others thought and you didn’t see anyone as different. You just wanted someone to hang out with!

    • Very true. Why did we refuse to believe adults when they would tell us “these are the best days of your life”???

      Thank you

  5. I’m glad the right people have come along in your life. We all need friends–true friends who will stick by us.

  6. Another thoughtful post. How many of us do the same thing I wonder? Have we in one way or another held off from people getting to know us, or us getting to know others because of what we worried about having to divulge, or worried about how they would perceive something about ourselves. How astute of you to reflect on this and look inward to see what it was you did or did not do to encourage or engage in new relationships. Relationships are never easy. I’m glad you have and had the comfort of the “old and steady” friends. It takes a bit of courage to be able to reach out and start new relationships. Great post Steven.

    • Thanks Colleen

      I have realised another great thing, every new relationship has allowed me to discover something new about myself. Someone getting to know me from scratch will see me in their own way. They will have a whole new set of questions for me to face. We can become so comfortable with lifelong friends that we are not challenged any more. Getting the right balance is key.

      • Steven, you are a grand teacher. Truly.

  7. Such a great lesson in the continual evolution of friendships, and relationships in general. I admire you for being so vulnerable and willing to try new ones. Good for you, Steven!

    • Thanks Denise. I’ve been lucky to have the same friends since I was very young so it was never a problem. I still have most of those friends but I knew this had to be done and I’m glad I did. Thank you for the comment Denise, very kind

  8. Nice to hear you’re spreading your wings. I’m so jealous!!! 🙂

    • Thanks Cheryl, I hope you manage to get some time to yourself soon.

      Thinking about both of you

      • Thanks. I’ve just had 9 days of freedom. Fantastic holiday in Newfoundland. Becky had a great time at camp. We’re back to reality now 😦

      • That’s great Cheryl, for both of you. Try and give reality a :-). I know it’s not easy at times but it helps if we pretend! 🙂 X

      • No worries, Steven. I know which side of my bread is buttered. Any day me and Becky wake up in the land of the living, is a good day. Thanks 🙂

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