It’s in our nature as human beings to crave for meaningful connections with the people that surround us. It is both satisfying and fulfilling to be in a position where you can comfortably identify with an individual or a group as your kin, friend or lover. We need to feel that we have people in our lives we can depend on and in exchange, we want them to depend on us as well because we understand the joy of being there for someone you deeply care for.
Going back a decade ago when I was still in my teens, adolescence had done a number on my self-esteem and I struggled to see anything positive in my life, though there was plenty. A lot of my insecurities came from my inability to have functional relationships with my peers. I always felt like I was too uncool to hang with certain people. I doubted my intelligence and at one point even thought that I couldn’t keep up with the conversations they were having because I wasn’t going to contribute anything meaningful.
What often happens in these situations is, individuals, alter their personalities so that they can fit into the clique. The problem with wanting to be someone you are not is the mental fatigue that comes with it. More so, you experience even deeper issues of self-esteem because you are aware that what you are doing is wrong and desperate.
When I was involved in a car accident a few years later and injured my spine, everything came crumbling down. At first, I received overwhelming support from my friends, they came to see me in hospital, made me feel loved and cared for. As time went by, it seemed like I grew more and more insignificant. I was at a very vulnerable time in my life; being in bed all day sickly and tired. I felt alone, like no one cared.
All my insecurities from when I was a teenager came back flooding in. It is painful past that I don’t like to look back on. The harsh reality of a life changed by paralysis plus scarred emotions made my life all the more miserable. It took me months to even contemplate having a friendly conversation with anyone. I preferred the comfort I found in my solitude, anything more was exhausting and depressing.
Because I spent so much time indoors, I met most people online as I had started writing short posts about what I was going through. Opening the doors to my life for the 85 people on my friend list wasn’t something that came naturally to me because I have always been an introvert. The interaction I got on social media became my saving grace, the void of absent friends had been filled by virtual affection and the more I shared, the lighter I felt. It was my own personal therapy.
The unique nature of my story attracted many kinds of people to my life; having this kind of attention from strangers made me feel special because I didn’t really have any solid friendship in real life at the time. I invested a lot in these friendships, mainly because I had plenty of time on my hands since I spent most of my days in bed.
I started noticing an interesting trend in most of the friendships I was making. Each would start on a high, we would communicate at all hours of the day and they would be very concerned about my health, education and what I was planning to do with my life. After a few months, however, conversations would go cold and they would resume living their lives. I, on the other hand, would be left stranded, not sure what to do or where to look. In my mind, I thought I had made a friend, I guess I thought wrong.
It’s like a thirst for curiosity that people want to quench. Once they get to know you, how you sleep, bathe, have sex, go to the bathroom…you cease to become interesting anymore and they move on without you. I have been built up hundreds of times only to be brought down. Most of the relationships I have forged in the recent past rarely last long. It’s always touch and go. Over time, however, I have learnt to protect myself from the hurt and to be a better judge of character. If you look closely, you can always tell who is genuine and who is otherwise.
From Stairs To Ramps: What Paralysis Means To Me