Rachel is a writer and ex-teacher. She is passionate about advocacy for people like herself, with rare, chronic or invisible disabilities. She has a neurological disorder called Pandysautonomia. She blogs about it (and other things) on The Chronic-ills of Rach. In this weeks guest blog, she shares her thoughts on the importance of friendship – both on and offline, and commemorates the loss of a dear friend.
I guess we all feel a bit awkward, thrust into a new group of people. I think it is part of the human condition. I went to so many schools when I was growing up that I did some crazy things trying to get people to notice me, to see who I was, beyond the be-spectacled, nerdy hand-raiser. I was those things, but I was much more besides. I wanted them to get to know me faster, I wanted to find my kind of people and put myself out of my social purgatory misery. Friends make the world go round.
I have a few dearly treasured friends these days. People who are with me in person. Supportive, wonderful women who are strong and wise and warm and funny. Girls who ‘get me’. I hope to have those friendships forever.
And then there are my online friends. I never thought I would have online friends. I didn’t know how to make friends online. But the people I have met through my support group for Dysautonomia and the people I have met through my blogging course, I now count among my best friends. I have been welcomed with open arms by people who ‘get me’. When my dear online friend Kellie van Meurs died a year ago today, it opened up a gaping wound of grief that has not yet closed. It’s hard to understand how that is possible, but it is. I’ve ‘met’ people who have changed my world from lonely to lovely. Warm fuzzy loveliness. Connection instead of isolation. These friendships are as real as those with people I can see and touch.
It is interesting to think that we have all met because of our struggles and shared pursuits. We reach out to each other from our solitude and we are no longer alone. There is a deep resource of empathetic, beautiful souls out there; sharing experiences and caring for each other across the digital desert. Beautiful people. One day I would love to meet each one of them and wrap my arms around them in person. Hello out there my friends. You mean a lot to me.
I have a new group of friends, too. A group that is just starting to build and grow. People who read my words here. I am so glad you are here. Everyone of us has difficulties we face and my hope is that no matter what yours are, you’ll find empathy here, with me. I look forward to getting to know you, don’t be shy, make comments and I will respond, I promise.
Today I was listening to Janis Ian, one of the world’s most talented singer songwriters. She wrote that song ‘At Seventeen’. But she also sang this song. I’d like to dedicate it today to my online friends. Here’s to you out there, because even on ‘days like these’… you help me to make my peace. I hope that I can help you make yours, too.
This blog was originally posted on The Chronic-ills of Rach. It has been shared with permission on DPSN.