Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Friendships in a Time of Chronic Pain

Relationships are tricky business, even under the best of circumstances. Toss in something as complicated and misunderstood as chronic pain and suddenly tricky sounds like an understatement. All of my relationships have been complicated by my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia but none as much as the new friendships.
Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

My situation is maybe a little atypical in that almost immediately after my migraines went chronic I picked up and moved across the country with my boyfriend (now husband) who needed to move for his job. The first of 3 different states we moved to for his career. Translation: I haven't lived near my immediate family or any of my friends since 2006. Fortunately, I have amazing friends back in Minnesota, where I'm from. They are loyal and loving and have not judged or made me feel bad about my chronic pain. Unfortunately, I rarely get to see them. 

I have no real words to describe the loss I feel because we don't live close enough to get together more than once every year or two. 

The logical thing to do is make a new friend or two in my new home city. Something I would have done already if it wasn't for my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia making it so damn complicated.

So why is it complicated? Here are the factors:
1. I don't meet many new people because I am not able to be actively involved in the community (i.e. work).
2. I can't commit to plans in advance and be certain my body will let me participate. Canceled plans and early departures are going to happen more often than not.
3. I can't participate in many activities people love doing - movies, plays, concerts, outdoor festivals or games, parties, sporting events, etc - without triggering a bad migraine and/or fibro flare.
4. I need to find people who can understand and accept my limitations, who are trustworthy, patient, tolerant, loving, quick to laugh and I need to click with them. That click is likely the only thing that will give a new friendship the chance to grow despite my chronic pain.
5. Most women in my age group have growing families and careers. They are, rightfully so, extremely busy with both. Any time and energy they have to devote to building new friendships is going to go to building it with someone who can relate to their current life. I have neither children nor career.

Honestly, I'm overwhelmed and terrified at the prospect of building a new friendship. It's hard to open up to new people about my health situation. It's hard for people to know how to respond to someone like me. It's hard for most people to understand. It's hard get to know someone when you don't see much of them. I often wonder if making new friends is even possible under these currently conditions. Maybe it is possible (anything is possible), just seems extremely unlikely.

Maybe for now, it's okay that I'm not building new friendships. I do have extended family and in-laws in town, not to mention I visit with hubby's friends and their wives on occasion. Plus, I still communicate with my old friends via email, facebook and skype. Maybe this is just the reality of this stage of my life. 


  1. check out the fibro fighters on facebook. there are some people on that site that I think are near you!


  2. I say, think of all the great long-distance friendships you've created by reaching out through your blog. I say you are richly blessed my friend! Happy V day to you and Hubs :D

  3. Thanks Heather and Ellen! I totally agree with you Ellen - I'm blessed to have made so many friendships online :)

  4. Not to be creepy, but...I'll be your friend :) I'm in and out of chronic, so I get where you're coming from.

    (Love your posts, btw)