Letting go of relationships that no longer serve you after Spinal Cord Injury

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 264Moderator Moderator
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Alright.....
I know the title is a bit, "heavy". But, this conversation has been popping up the past few days, in very different situations and with different people. This isn't necessarily a topic that I enjoy writing about, nor really wish to spend to much time on but, I have been lead here so...let's just blurt it out and be done with it. By that I mean, I hope we can all heal and move on with our lives....

From my personal experience, and as a girlfriend of someone who sustained a high grade, spinal cord injury, I can openly say that I have "lost" a few people who we thought were our "friends".

The reason I bring this topic up is because I am surprised at how often this happens. A shift in relationships, friendships, and family members. SCI, and I suppose any other abruptly and quickly onset illness or disability truly frightens people. Maybe it makes them question their own mortality? Maybe it's a rude awakening that human life and connection doesn't revolve around materialism and personal gain. 

I'll tell you this, SCI doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you're rich or poor, whether you have many friends or none. It's called an accident for a reason, it didn't happen on purpose. And yes, it hurts seeing the people you thought loved you and respected you, hit the road. But, know this...those are the ones that you would always have spend your healing energy...consoling and counselling. And guess what? IT ain't worth the trouble. 

I had a close friend once tell me that my boyfriends SCI was.."too much" and "too stressful" for them. LOL. I know. And lately, I keep on hearing a similar theme with other men and women. "My family couldn't handle my injury"...or.. "my friend said this was too hard for them"...

Well, what are your thoughts on the topic? Do you have any words of wisdom when it comes to closing doors to expired relationships that no longer serve you? Let us know!

Elena

WAGS of SCI



Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)

Comments

  • SterlionSterlion Posts: 69Moderator Moderator
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    A lot of  my "friends" just stopped coming around. It kind of sucked because I've known them for years. After thinking about it I realized there were many times in the past before my injury their actions showed they weren't much of real friends but I just enjoyed hanging around them so I ignored it. Now I know the kind of people who would do anything in their power for me and will always be there. It was hard at first but it worked out in my favor.
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 169Moderator Moderator
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    Thinking about people being this way makes me sick. People can really show their true colors when something comes up that might not be what they're used to. But for the ones who do stick around...they're real. As hard as it is to let go of friendships, even when that person has been terrible, I think adopting a "good riddance" attitude is the way to go. Goodbye to toxic energy!

    Also, your point about SCI not discriminating is SO. FREAKIN. TRUE. It's kind of amazing to me how little the general public knows or cares about SCI, even though it can happen to literally anyone. It is something that NO ONE can guarantee won't happen to them. I don't know, I just think that more people would want to be a bit more aware of something that could happen to them (in addition to simply caring about fellow human beings).

    P.S.- that close friend saying your boyfriend's SCI was "too much" or "too stressful" for them....the lack of self-awareness is astounding.
  • Monica.TMonica.T Posts: 98Member ✭✭
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    A SCI seems to help weed the selfish people out of your life and at the same time will introduce you to new people who are understanding of your situation.
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 264Moderator Moderator
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    edited March 26
    We personally found that the people who were toxic to our mental health before injury - and were not supposed to be  in our lives - showed their true colours fast so that it was very apparent who we could have in our lives and who we couldn’t have around us. The good people really showed up for us in a positive way. They respected what we needed and our boundaries, always offered to go over and above to help us, and were not selfish only thinking about their own needs. Looking back, we both feel that if those toxic people had remained in our lives, they would have sucked the life out of both of us when we needed our strength the most, and impeded My husbands healing journey. Spending time babysitting emotionally unsupportive, draining people is pretty much impossible with an SCI- I’m sure you can all relate. When a trauma happens to you, you realize that life is too short to be surrounding yourself with people who are not on the same page as you, or those who guilt you into being around them for their own selfish means. I’m sure all of us can agree that everything happens for a reason, and after this injury it truly shows you who is a good, unselfish person and who is not. It gives you (like a Elena always says haha) a “bye Felicia” attitude that is unapologetic toward people who do not deserve your time. This is a true gift. You stop apologizing, stop waisting your time, stop surrounding yourself with bad energy, and can move forward strong, powerful and enlightened. - Brooke 
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • misscoreyannmisscoreyann Posts: 7Member
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    A lot of our friends just stopped reaching out and a lot of my friends seem to have a hard time understanding why I am with a man in a wheelchair. For me it is so much more than the chair. I fell in love with this man for his heart and soul and ability to put up with my crazy ass haha I have learned from past relationships and difficult times that situations like this will show peoples true colors. The people meant to be in your life will be there and if not, it just wasn't meant to be. 
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 264Moderator Moderator
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    You know, at the end of the day I have to remind myself that people have busy lives, as do we. People also make time for things that matter to them most. I know that if I want ice cream for example, I will literally jump out of bed, in my pj's and go to the store. Having these thoughts in the back of my mind has actually made it really easy to let go of the guilt that I, myself, was feeling about not reaching out to other people as well. IF these people were meant to be in your life, they would have already done so. Plus, I really do believe that it's ridiculously freeing for the soul to close doors. I look at it as "purging", when you clean your closet or cupboards out, and all the "stuff" that you didn't even know was lurking in the background is gone, it feels so good to just let it go. "Ta-Ta!" :)
    @Monica.T  
    @misscoreyann
    @Dan_Gottlieb
    @BrookeU
    @Sterlion
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ColeandCharismaColeandCharisma Posts: 12Moderator Moderator
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    edited April 30
    I was a 16 year old guy when I got hurt and I was very much the stereotypical jock either chasing girls or the most fun thing to do at that moment; which, most of the time, was chasing the girls. I grew up pretty quick following my SCI and felt like most of my friends had, too, since it’s never just the injured one that is affected by something like this. And some of them really did. Others, though, slowly drifted away. Guys I’d call my best friends soon became rare visitors as they chose not to be slowed down by their quad friend in the pursuit of the best possible time. I tried not to let it bother me much but deep down it always got to me. And as hard as it is to admit, I think it bothered me so because a part of me feared that had the roles been reversed I have done the same thing, and I hate that that might be true having learned how it feels watching your friends fade from your life because you aren’t fun enough to bring along. Perspective is a profound thing and SCI heaps it on in piles. In the end I’m okay with the friends that hung around. I knew that they had their hearts in the right place and those relationships were far stronger than any I could have had founded on chasing good times.

    -Cole
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 173Moderator Moderator
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    I can definitely relate to this post. Like Cole, I was pretty young when my accident happened (15). I was a very active and independent person before accident. I rode dirt bikes, surfed, skateboarded, and messed around with my friends. After my injury happened I was forced to grow up and mature really fast. My injury showed me who my real friends were and weeded out the fake ones. High school was hard for me and I definitely felt left out at times. A lot of my friends did make an effort to hangout and do things with me but only if I initiated it. It was a lot more work to do things with me and I do not blame them. It always hurt me when I would ask friends to hangout and they would blow me off and I would see them on snapchat at a party and with my other friends. Friends who I thought would stay around slowly faded away and friends I did not think would stick around stepped up. I cut out a lot of my friends because they were not a positive influence on me. The quote "Actions Speak Louder Than Words' is something that means a lot to me. A lot of my old friends were just talk. I am happy with the friends I still have and my relationship with them is even stronger. I have met new and amazing friends since my accident that I never would have if my SCI did not happen. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 264Moderator Moderator
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    Thank you for sharing your experiences and journey with us. There is a tremendous amount of value in viewing relationships in a different light after some time has passed. The further we move away from what we thought, "was meant to be", the clearly the picture becomes that "closed doors and detours only protect you from what was not meant to be". There is meaning making in ALL of it. So, thank you for sharing your wise words of life,, wisdom and personal experiences. 

    @ColeandCharisma
    @Zcollie
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 169Moderator Moderator
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    This is something I've talked about with my brother. When he's down on the fact that he may not do "normal" 24-year-old things, I remind him that the people in his life genuinely WANT TO BE THERE. It's almost a natural weeding-out process. The people who are friends with him truly do not care that he uses a wheelchair. Anyone who isn't friends with him because of that clearly isn't a good person to have around anyway. Also, his friends are some of the coolest people I've met. Because accepting people are always cool people.
  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 117Moderator Moderator
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    I only surround myself with people that accept my injury and see me for who I am as a person.
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 173Moderator Moderator
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    @garrisonredd Amen to that! 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 264Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU ;
    @garrisonredd
    @Zcollie

    We have found that many of Dan's friends have trickled off but his closest buddies remain. It also has a lot to do with commuting and distance, people have a hard time making time to get together and drive out to us (1 hour away). Do you find that you go to others more often than they come to you?

    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • BrittanyFrankBrittanyFrank Posts: 35Moderator Moderator
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    Well this really hits home. My accident was due to the negligence of my boyfriend at the time. Navigating the waters of paralysis, dating, guilt & grief were messy. Ultimately I chose to break off the relationship and down the road for the first time felt anger for the negligence of that night. While in the relationship I tried to lessen the blame on him & protect him from friends and families judgement.

    But about two years after the accident I had been working through all the grief, anger & everything that goes along with that kind of situation. Overall, I found it best to let go of the relationship completely and not be in contact. It's hard sometimes because I wonder does he even realize all he caused. But as I worked through my anger and forgiveness I've CHOSEN to forgive and by doing so I've found peace in my life. I think maintaining and keeping that relationship in my life would keep wounds open that don't need to be. 

    There are still moments of frustration and wondering, but overall the peace in my life brought me to my now husband and our beautiful life.

    I love this quote about giving up & letting go that relates to many aspects of life by Danielle Koepke:

    "There is a big difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle toilet your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. giving up is imprisoning. Letting of is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care.
    So the next time you make the decision to release something or someone that is stifling your happiness and growth, and a person has the audacity to accuse you of giving up or being weak, remind yourself of the difference. Remind yourself that you don't need anyone's permission or approval to life your life in the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live. No one gets to decide what your life should look like or who should be a part of it. No one, but you."   
  • Dan_GottliebDan_Gottlieb Posts: 15Moderator Moderator
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    Hi Brittany,

    I love that quote. I will look her up.

    Years ago, I interviewed Harold Kushner author of "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" We wound up talking about resentments and he said this: "holding on to resentment is like mud wrestling with a pig. You will both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it!"

    It easier said than done. Sometimes it's hard to simply let go. But when we hold on tightly to something, we are suffering. Because we are so focused outward at whoever hurt us, we are not aware of our own emotions, let alone bodily sensations.

    Most humans, when we suffer we need care. We need compassion and understanding. And we can get that from ourselves. We can learn to feel compassion for this suffering body, this suffering person who is simply trying to heal. Hold your heart like you would that of a baby who is suffering.

    If we can feel compassion for ourselves, we feel more relaxed, safer and more likely to let go.
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