Participants Point of View
Week 23 Participants Point of View by Ashley Rose (@dream4muse)
Relationships and Diabetes
When I saw the topic for the last DSMA – relationships and diabetes – only one thought came to mind.
While fellow participants were speaking of great friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners and spouses that have supported them and their diabetes, that’s not the conversation I had to bring to the table.
3 years ago, I was 24. I was doing well in school. My family and friends were amazing. And the guy in my life? He was it. IT it and had been since I was 17. He was My Future. Everything was going well but health wise, I wasn’t feeling right. 2 weeks after my 25th birthday I was diagnosed with diabetes. With that, I knew that my life would change but it was my future that changed in ways I never expected.
The one constant in most diagnosis stories is that it’s a very lonely and isolating time. No matter who you have supporting you, no one can entirely “get it” from your perspective. As Cherise mentioned during the discussion, it takes strong PWODs to deal with the ups and downs of diabetes. It takes strength to be willing to hitch a ride on the glucoaster when you have the option of staying off of it. The support from my family was, and still is, unwavering. At the time of my diagnosis, my feelings of loneliness were heightened by the realization that my family was the only place I was getting support. My friends and My Future? Not so much.
When I told my best friend about my diagnosis her response was “better you than me, I could never deal with it.” And My Future? Well he wasn’t shy about pointing out all the ways he felt I was no longer the girl he’d fallen for and the reasons he saw me as being limited by my diabetes. He questioned if he could still depend on me the way he always had. Talking to him wreaked havoc on my blood sugar and the fact that we were arguing more than we were talking just made it worse.
I felt more support from people I’d just met than the people I’d known for years. I couldn’t get my friends and My Future to even acknowledge that a big change had taken place in my life and that I needed their love and support. To them it was all about whether or not MY support of THEM would change. It felt as though the support system I thought would always be there was crumbling when in truth it had never been there to begin with. My diagnosis brought issues to light that had become too obvious to ignore.
The feelings of isolation and fear that come with this diagnosis made the decision to take the people who weren’t supportive out of my life even harder, but I knew I had to do it. So after almost 9 years, I parted ways with My Future and I let friendships that weren’t supportive fizzle out. This didn’t mean that I was alone, it just meant that the people I had in my life at the time weren’t the ones who were meant to travel this journey with me. I am no longer close to anyone I was close to before my diagnosis.
The friends I have now are the ones who stash candy and juice in their backpacks and purses when they know they’ll be around me. The ones who will go out and not have a drink because they know I won’t either. The ones who wait to see what I’m ordering at a restaurant before they make their choices because they don’t want to “rub it in” in case I’m losing a blood sugar battle.. The ones who think a quiet night in with me is much better than a night out without me. And I never would have met them if diabetes hadn’t given me the strength to acknowledge that my relationships weren’t healthy and that I needed to move on from them.
A lot of times, if we let it this disease can make us feel as though we are less than and that we’re undeserving of something as simple as happiness. Our instincts can tell us to settle. We settle in relationships and friendships that are comfortable even if they’re unhealthy or make us unhappy because we fear no one else will want to deal with the d-beast. As I sit here, still single since that day 3 years ago, I can still say that I’d rather be in no relationship at all than one that’s unhealthy and lacking support. The fact is, as K2 said so eloquently, “Love means never having to say I’m sorry my pancreas is broken.” Diabetes helped me pinpoint the toxic people I had in my life and find those who really care and looking at my life as it is now, I wouldn’t want it any other way.