I don’t have a lot of friends. And I’m not talking about “Facebook friends.” (I’m not even on Facebook. You can read an essay over at RoleReboot.org that explains why.)
In terms of real, three-dimensional people, I do have a small, close circle of friends. Friends who have been my friends for years. There’s Aya, my pen pal who lives in Japan. She and I have been writing letters since 1993. (You can read the blog post I wrote about our friendship here).
There’s Evelyn, a woman I met during my college years, when I worked in a public library. More than 20 years later, we’re still friends.
There are my teacher friends, but as it happens in life, once I stopped teaching, our relationships started to slowly fizzle. It was hard to maintain them when the times I could talk (while my son was in school) were exactly the same times they couldn’t (because they were teaching in school).
But in the last couple of years, I’ve made three new friends. And it occurred to me the other night that I only met these women because of my autoimmune disease. If I was still teaching, I never would have participated in a chronic pain group (friend number one), I never would have attended a daytime writing class (friend number two), and I never would have attended a three day writer’s retreat (friend number three).
It’s easy to go through my days and think about how much harder many aspects of my life have become. It’s easy to fall into the trap of sadness, to focus on the losses. Chronic pain will do that. And that’s all true. But it’s important to also remember that there are a few silver linings. And I definitely count these three women, our friendships, as silver linings.