A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about friendships. I think it bears repeating. I attended our MS self help group today. It is so refreshing to talk with like minded people who get it. No one says “you don’t look sick”, or “I get tired too sometimes”, or “why can you not remember”, or “why do you have to run to the bathroom so quick”. There are more examples on multiplesclerosis.net, Penelopy Conway’s blog at Positive Living with MS and verywell.com.
Here is my original blog post:
Friendships are vital. Friendship can be defined as a safe place with mutual affection, companionship, fellowship, closeness, rapport, understanding, harmony, unity. God made us to be social creatures. We all need unconditional love in our lives.
Friends can be found at church, school, neighborhoods, the local coffee shop or the internet (I do not recommend dating sites–there’s a lot of scammers out there. At least that has been my experience. Maybe I’m just too trusting). They can also be found at support groups, such as MS self-help groups, AA, NA, OA, weight watchers, or any support group with like minded people who share an interest. That could mean a sewing circle (do they have those anymore), a sports team, chess club, or a support group with a shared diagnosis, such as cancer or a mental illness.
My experience with MS sport support groups in Washington as well as North Carolina, is that they are very educational as well as a place to commiserate, and yet also grow stronger. With my history of teaching and then training staff, volunteers, and board members; I have also become a leader in our groups. But I know that’s not for everyone. Although the meetings are only once a month, I look forward to seen all my friends again. There have been a few that became closer as friends, doing fun things outside of the meeting. It’s nice to be able to talk about hopes, fears, symptoms and strategies with someone else who knows exactly what you’re talking about.
We have a lot of alcoholism in our family. Both of my brothers have struggled with it as well as my son. My son was clean and sober for about three years, and thought he didn’t need AA meetings or a sponsor. That’s when things went downhill again. Now he’s clean and sober again and understands the value of AA meetings and getting a good sponsor. He realizes that he needs to have a support system that is there for him that he can call on anytime day or night.
The following is taken from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s website.
Self-help groups bring people together who share common life experiences for support, education and mutual aid. Benefits of participating in a self-help group include:
- Learning new information and strategies for confronting problems.
- Finding support from others.
- The opportunity to help others.
- Feeling empowered and more self-confident in coping with challenges.
National MS Society self-help groups focus on support, advocacy, education, wellness or may be more social in nature. Some groups also serve specific populations, such as young adults, parents with MS, carepartners or African-Americans. Other groups may have a specific focus, such as physical activity, wellness or healthy living.
People come together at self-help groups to lift each other up through personal struggles and encourage each other to try new things and live each day to its full potential.
Just a few words about Alcoholics Anonymous:
AA is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem. It is a safe place to share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Bottom line–we need each other. That’s why the writer of Hebrews in the Bible says “do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but exhort one another”.
And I have to add, that I really appreciate all of our blogging family, too!!