A traumatic event can have a major impact on personal relationships. Seven years ago, Ali was involved in an accident where she sustained a spinal cord injury. Navigating friendships after her accident proved to be difficult as Ali realized the magnitude of how the traumatic event affected those around her, as well as herself.
“A traumatic event can really show you who your friends are, but at the same time can create quite a lot of animosity, and frustration for many that are injured.”
Ali says that there are two types of friends after experiencing a traumatic event: a supportive friend or a friend who leaves. However she admits that she knows people have their own way of handling such sensitive issues. “Some people can handle it with elegance and grace, and some people can feel just as traumatized as a person who is injured.”
“Feelings can get hurt, emotions can run high, and relationships can be pushed to the brink.”
Feelings of abandonment settled in for Ali after the initial acute phase of her accident. She had to remember that her family and friends that stayed by her side also had lives of their own. Ali knew her friends and family cared for her, even if they could not be physically present all the time. She states that even if you only have two friends you can count on in life, you’re doing good, regardless of disability.
Ali writes about aspects of life with a disability that can make maintaining friendships difficult. She says that it may be challenging for her friends to invite her places that are not wheelchair accessible because they do not want Ali to feel bad. Ali’s hectic schedule of doctor appointments and disability-related issues are another hindrance to friendships, she says. Persistence is the only thing that Ali has found helpful in building friendships.
“I seem to just keep pushing forward and trying to get people to hang out whenever they can even if I have to schedule far in advance.”
Ali wants to expand her friendship circle, but she says it is hard to find friends in her area that are around her age. Ali has turned to social media to form friendships with people in similar situations as herself.
“Life with a disability is definitely more complicated and many will never understand what we go through. I do think one huge advantage to social media is you can connect with other disabled folks through Facebook, Snapchat, etc. in order to share in similar challenges.”
Do you have advice for building or maintaining friendships? Share your story with us at AbleThrive.com!