Two women sharing a gesture of friendship

The Value of Friendship with Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to Walter Winchell, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” When you live with rheumatoid arthritis, nothing rings truer than that. Maintaining healthy friendships when you live with rheumatoid arthritis is difficult, but it can make the difference between surviving and thriving with RD. The value of genuine friendship with rheumatoid arthritis is absolutely priceless.

The value of friendship when you living with RA

Like so many lessons you learn when you age, you learn that friendship isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. Friendship is important to everyone, but when you are friends with someone with a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis it takes on a whole new meaning and value.

Life with chronic pain, fatigue, and disease is not for the faint-hearted. And the value of having a friend who actually listens to your answer to the heartfelt question, “How are you doing?”, is absolutely priceless. The value of a genuine friend when you live with rheumatoid arthritis goes beyond words and is more valuable than the most priceless gems in the world.

What genuine friendship looks like to me

A genuine friend will support you no matter what

They may not always agree with your treatment choices, and they may not agree with the means that you use to manage your disease. Perhaps you choose medical marijuana to help manage your pain or maybe you don’t exercise as much as they think you should. But for a genuine friend, all of that is okay. Finding someone that will support you, whether they agree with your choices or not doesn’t matter, because they are a genuine friend. They are there for you, cheering you on, no matter what.

Yes, it can be exhausting being a genuine friend, offering support no matter what. Those of us that have been that friend to others are well aware of that. But for a genuine friend, they don’t count the cost and they don’t hold it against you, knowing full-well that you’d do the same if the situations were reversed.

A genuine friend will not judge you

Did you have to cancel plans *again*? Were they let down because you couldn’t make a commitment or chose the wrong place to use your limited energy and wound up with nothing left to give?

A genuine friend won’t hold this against you, they won’t judge or berate you for perceived mistakes. They will not label you “unreliable,” “lazy,” or even a “hypochondriac,” because that is not what genuine friendship looks like.

A genuine friend listens with true understanding and speaks with deep compassion

This particular part of friendship strikes such a deep and meaningful chord with me. If you have a friend that truly listens with actual understanding and uses that to speak with a remarkable level of compassion, then you better hold on tightly and not let them go.

Many people feel compelled to push aside the pain that others feel. It makes them uncomfortable. But a genuine friend understands and offers compassion, without comparing or glossing over our pain. They are down in the trenches with us.

Be a genuine friend in return

Don’t forget: having a genuine friend means being one in return. We aren’t the only ones who need a little judgment-free support or a bucket-load of understanding and compassion in this world. It is true that everyone has their own burden to carry and true, genuine friendship is a two-way street. To be on the receiving end of genuine friendship, we can’t forget to also be a genuine friend every opportunity we get.

 

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