Sunday, February 24, 2013

Backwards and Side to Side

I've spent hours every week trying to write a blog post. I have six partially-finished, wholly abandoned drafts sitting in my posts list. Somewhere along the way, my motivations and inspirations fell off the face of the earth, and try as I might, I can't seem to recover them.

Today my inspiration stems from my heavy, heavy heart. I witnessed the end of a very close friendship, with a person I admire and adore with everything I have (I will call him Friend). He was probably the first person to become a constant reader and vocal supporter of this blog, though I don't believe he is a follower any longer. He has never been anything less than an unwavering foundation through some of the worst of my struggles with this stupidly persistent disease.

I am in awe of the process of a decomposing friendship. All I can do, lately, is watch as my personal relationships crumble around me. I had some vague feeling of dread about this particular friendship, as if I were watching it burst into pieces but possessed absolutely no useful abilities for stopping the inevitable explosion. Explode it did, into a million childish, horribly intimate jabs at each other, a thousand terrible names and words and feelings.

Since my disease has become a physical barrier in my life, I am often overwhelmed by a tenacious and insidious fear of being left behind. My friends are graduated, doing impressive things with their incredible brains and their equally incredible degrees. They spend their days working, attending grad school, and spend their evenings and weekends with able-bodied people who aren't imprisoned in broken bodies and hopelessly dispirited minds. I fight with words every day, tucked away in my corner of the world and engaged in the vain pursuit of proudly presenting my heartbreak, my sadness, my neverending list of woes with the internet. I'm probably not a lot of fun.

Perhaps, if you, too, have suffered depression or chronic pain or temporary pain or social anxiety, you are familiar with this feeling. It's watching loved ones surge forward in energetic bursts, progressing onward with their lives while you stand behind. It's getting stuck with the run-down go-kart while friends speed ahead, leaving you in dust and smoke and a lonely ring of scuffed-up tires. It's the feeling of watching your own life fall backwards into a dead-end job; the seemingly-ceaseless pursuit of an undergraduate degree; a circular, cyclical life in a basement apartment.

So I putter away with my life in a go-kart in desperate need of a reboot. I watch my friends speed on ahead, seeking out real person lives for themselves with other competent real people. I watched Friend, in particular, seek out competent, normal friends with lives unaffected by endless physical woes. Of course, I am aware that this is not a conscious decision to pull away from the disabled and struggling. It happens all the same, or I think it happens because I am so acutely aware of my physical failings, my emotional struggle, and my everyday attempts just to function on a basic level. I watched what I perceived as Friend leaving me behind. He sped away, and I sat here weaving side to side, sliding into reverse because my broken go-kart can't possibly putter forward with any sort of speed or regularity.

This is not an apology, or finger-pointing, or even really some sort of investigation into the process of applying emotional TNT to a close friendship. It's another struggle to peer into the hows and whys of being pinned with an illness that wheedles its way into every facet of my being, or your being, or anyone's essential being. I am floored at the far-reaching, seemingly silly effects that my RA has caused in my life. Chronic illness is damn persistent. It began in my smallest joints, snaked through my body faster than I could have expected, and somewhere along the way, it worked its way into ME, as a soul with emotions and goals and hopes and dreams. I'm watching ME crack beneath the stress.

I am sorry to lose a friend as marvelously loving and positive as Friend. I am sorry to watch myself finally fall apart after a year and a half of fighting. I am sorry that I could not be some sort of inspirational role model to my peers. I am especially sorry for allowing my personal relationships to fall by the wayside. It's not you, it's me, and I am incredibly sincere in that assertion. That it is THIS particular grief, over losing a friendship, that finally freed me from my terrible battle with writer's block is so telling. My friendships and my loved ones are my everything.

I hope that the next time I write, I will be able to discuss the importance of mental healthcare right alongside the physical treatments. I am, at least, proud to admit that I have sought the help I need to get right back up and keep kickin' ass.

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