Once upon a time I made a friend through a fantastic online forum for sufferers of M.E. We chatted almost everyday either online or over the phone when I was well enough to talk and I confided in this person, during those dark dining room days, in a more open and honest way than I did with my other friends. We never actually managed to meet up in real life but their friendship came to be very important to me.
I never imagined I’d lose touch with this person, but sadly we have.
There were times when we wouldn’t be in contact before and during those times I would wonder whether they too were too poorly to text or go online. Or were they doing okay; had they gone back to work? Or were they struggling to keep their balance and didn’t have any spare energy left for chatting online? Or had I simply been forgotten, having not meant as much to them as they did to me?
When we last spoke I found out this once close friend now classed themselves as fully recovered. I was ecstatic! While they were not severely affected they had endured years and years of suffering at the hands of this disease and the unimaginable hardships that come with it. As far as I know they are now still living that normal life that we dreamt of; working full time, playing sport twice a week, socialising with friends, and being able to be in a relationship. I am over the moon for them.
But the dynamic in our relationship had shifted. We were no longer in the same boat and for the very first time there was an awkwardness to our conversation that crushed me with sadness. We suddenly had nothing to say and could no longer relate to each other’s experiences.
We haven’t spoken for a while and this time I know that our friendship has come to its end.
I don’t believe that this person suddenly stopped caring about me. Instead I wonder whether it is because of what I have come to call ‘Recover’s Guilt?’ People I’ve met during The M.E Years dip in and out of my life but I have noticed a pattern. Those who have recovered have cut all communication.
Was it too hard to remain friends with someone who was still suffering? Was I a reminder of those painful years of illness? Perhaps they even felt guilty about recovering…
Perhaps they felt that natural need to move on and into the next phase of their life, leaving behind the old one, full of pain and suffering…