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Four ways to rekindle relationships with MS

By Matt Cavallo
When I was diagnosed with MS in 2005, I found myself pulling away from friends and family. Part of my pulling away from the herd had to do with the changes that were going on with me. The other part was the perception that I believed friends and family would have of me now that I was living with multiple sclerosis. I was afraid that they wouldn’t understand or that they would treat me differently.

I found myself in isolation mode. Initially, I felt happier being alone. As time progressed, I realized that my isolation was doing more harm than good. However, I felt that there was too much time and distance between when I let go of my friends and family and that welcoming them back into my life would be harder than keeping them away. It wasn’t until I accepted that MS was just something that I had and that I was still the same person that I was able to accept those I had let go back into my life. If you are feeling the same way, then here are a couple of strategies that can help:

A handwritten letter – In this age of email, text, and social networking, receiving a hand-written letter in the mail makes a person feel special. If someone has been out of your life for a while, sending them a handwritten letter or a card is a thoughtful way to tell that person that you want them back into your life. It is OK to say that you have been dealing with multiple sclerosis and that you needed time to yourself. The person reading your message will understand. Especially if that hard to say message arrives in their mailbox. They’ll know you went through the extra effort and that you really want them back in your life.

Picking up the phone – Again, this age of email, text, and social networking has removed the sincerity of a good old-fashioned conversation. If you haven’t communicated with someone in a long time, there is nothing like actually hearing their voice. A person cannot always interrupt the context of a text message, no matter the emoticon. A person can understand the tone of your voice. And if you have been out of that person’s life for a long time because of how you felt about your multiple sclerosis, there is nothing better than hearing you explain that over the phone.

Dropping by – We are all busy. Whether it is work, doctor’s appointments or any reason, dropping by to see someone is still the best way to check in. This is not the first method, but once you send a letter or make that phone call, dropping by and visiting that person is an important step to rebuilding that relationship. Dropping by unannounced is never encouraged, but use the phone call or the letter as a way of telling that person you’d like to see them again.

Invite them over – Just like you probably shouldn’t drop by unannounced, a person would rather be invited over than drop by unexpectedly. If you start the conversation and the person wants to come by and visit, be receptive to inviting them back into your life. They may not know the words to say or understand MS or what you are going through, but they will want to visit with you. They may not know the right things to say, but them being there says enough.

Going through a diagnosis like MS may put a strain on your relationships. You may find yourself pushing people away. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get them back. When you are trying to rekindle relationships you lost after being diagnosed, traditional means of communication work better than email, text or social networking. Writing a letter, making a phone call, dropping by or inviting that person over will go a long way to rebuilding those relationships. Once they are back in your life, be open and honest about how MS has made you feel and how it affected your relationship. You’ll find that once you let them back in that you’ll have more support in this MS journey.