When it's Over

There’s this dress in the back of my closet.
And boy, I used to rock that thing. It was perfect for any occasion. It hugged every curve, it made heads turn, and it made me feel so confident and strong.

At least, it did a long time ago.
And now? That dress I once loved and wore to death is now outdated. The zipper is broken, the color is faded, and it no longer fits as well as it once did.
But how did we get here? I laundered this dress according to the suggested washing instructions, many times being more cautious than necessary. I repaired the zipper myself a few times, and I’ve invested money to have this dress tailored to fit properly (and I've kept all the receipts!).
Despite the attempts I made into making this garment last, it just…
It just doesn’t make me feel good about myself anymore.
But it did at one time, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to toss it into the “donate” pile yet. Instead, I continue to make excuses for it while it remains, hanging in my closet, a ghost, a constant reminder of the good times I once had while wearing it, but something that no longer brings me joy.
It no longer brings me joy.
Look, a waning relationship is no surprise or shock to people with MS. Whether it’s a friendship, a marriage, or a courtship, a diminishment of interest can be inevitable, and we learn pretty quickly who is truly “in it” for the long haul. And this learning curve is especially accelerated and apparent during times of extreme distress and suffering.
A close friend recently said to me: “Friendship is bruises, scraped knees and broken bones. If that’s too much for someone, that person is not a friend.”
Relationships take work and communication from all parties involved and the moment one person makes the decision to tap out, the relationship is dead.
Having an illness can cause a rift for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps it’s a matter of “out of sight, out of mind,” or maybe it’s the lack of the ability -- or, worse, an absence of desire -- to relate. These are excuses. Most people don’t intend to be toxic, but the truth is, if you are truly important enough to someone, they will make the effort to understand what you are going through, to ask what they can do to be of assistance, even if it’s not convenient (especially if it’s not convenient). They will, at the very least, make the effort to simply be present... because you are worth it.
You are worth the effort, and you are deserving of love.
Surround yourself with people who recognize that. Know when to let go and walk away and stop making excuses for the people who cannot, do not, will not.
So now what?
Go find that sassy dress that will help you feel good again. Who knows? It may even already be in your wardrobe.
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Cat Stappas

Cat was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013 and writes about her experiences in her blog, It's Only A Bruise. She hopes to make the dark corners of the internet a little bit less scary for both the newly and the long-time diagnosed with some honesty, positivity and — sometimes — some tongue-in-cheek humor. You can read her blog here and follow her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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  • Marge Falendysz   Sep 6, 2017 5:31 PM
    That is a fantastic quote and I can relate to it. It is so true. “Friendship is bruises, scraped knees and broken bones. If that’s too much for someone, that person is not a friend.”
  • Jordan   Sep 8, 2017 8:02 AM
    I have had MS for the last 4 years, probably more. My injections during that time, have stabilized me. I am doing ok. I have loved my x-wife for over 40 years, and have been loving my domestic partner for the last 9 nine years…but MS was was too much of a burden. I now have my loving daughter, her husband, who I treat as my son, and our 2 little granddaughters who are so beautiful. I now live for my family. Jordan
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    blschaar  Sep 10, 2017 6:40 PM
    Oh those "friends", who no longer are worthy of that description. Well said!
    They cannot-do not have tools? Or they will not? Nice -they get to not deal with MS! We can't have such a luxury. Reality keeps smacking us.
    Thanks for sharing this!
  • jet418  Sep 12, 2017 4:38 PM
    Thank you- I needed this affirmation today. I am learning to let go of what I thought was a forever friend; refuse to be an inconvenience!
  • Kent  Sep 12, 2017 10:50 PM
    Friends... need some. I thought things were good until the day cancer and MS diagnoses hit. The truth hit harder. “Friendship is bruises, scraped knees and broken bones. If that’s too much for someone, that person is not a friend.” How true!
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    krista-spaeth  Sep 13, 2017 12:11 PM
    You are worth the effort and deserving of love. That is so true, and thank you for stating it so clearly. <3
  • Susan Lesperance   Sep 13, 2017 2:12 PM
    Cat, you have a gift of finding just the right way to communicate with us about your MS journey. This particular post hit home for me in a big way. Sending much love to you and Rusty.
  • Sue Chambers   Sep 14, 2017 8:27 PM
    My marriage did not survive MS. Thank you for this post. I wish I had seen it a long time ago.
  • Pat   Sep 28, 2017 11:56 AM
    I had similar thoughts about an awesome dress. I have lost some weight over the past couple of MS years so nothing quite fits. This provided the perfect opportunity to splurge on three fab dresses and some killer shoes! I have discovered that I can use a rollator/electric scooter without wearing sensible shoes....such a break-thru so take that MS!
  • Julie   Sep 29, 2017 1:47 PM
    As the spouse of someone with MS.... I would get so angry at our families! We moved away before his diagnosis, and for years we had visitors, many times a year. We also travelled back to be with family, 4-5 times a year. But once his illness hit the 'disabled' stage, and we were no longer able to travel, suddenly - no more visitors! People didn't write, rarely called, or texted, for three long years! I was so sad for him, and so angry at them! And yet so many came to his funeral......
    To argue the other side - before I walked this path with him, I was one of those that let 'out of sight' be an easy default way for me to deal. Not because I didn't care - I did! And not because I wasn't willing to help- I was! But i was nervous, frightened even. I didn't know how to deal with someone's illness, what to say, what to do. I wanted badly to be there, to help but was so afraid of doing/saying the wrong thing! I recognize now how dumb that was, and how typical that is, AND how usually the person with the illness handles that awkwardness graciously. I know now that I should have tried harder. That doesn't make me toxic, or even a bad friend, it just makes me amazingly ignorant and gutless. (that's who I was then!)

    So maybe forgive your friends, recognize that they may just be like I used to be - totally paralyzed by the fear of doing the wrong thing, so they do nothing. I'm working on that with the families. Of course on the other hand - they could just be selfish pigs that aren't worth another thought!!!
  • Shelly   Oct 8, 2017 3:28 PM
    You know I love metaphors, this was great. <3
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    cathyjlivinlife  Mar 4, 2018 6:42 AM
    Wow, so well stated. Finding and keeping people in your life who love you unconditionally is very hard with MS. I’m striving to “let go” of people in my life that I bring joy to, but is not reciprocated. I have a lot to share and MS is part of me, take it or leave it.
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    maria1  Mar 4, 2018 7:03 AM
    This is very nice Cat, thank you. Walking away from toxic people is not giving up, it is the smart thing to do. My dress has been hanging in the closet for twenty years, I keep thinking some day it will fit, lol.