The other night a nightmare woke me up. I was dreaming about a friend I met through work many years ago. She was making an announcement to a group of family and friends that she and her husband were moving to Italy. She said, "I will remain friends with all of you, even though we are moving to Italy."
I shook my head and said, "No, you won't."
She replied, "Oh course we will. You can come and visit us in Italy any time. It really isn't that far away."
I responded, "I have all these illnesses that make traveling next to impossible. There is no way I can travel to Italy, which means we aren't going to be friends anymore."
Then I burst into tears.
At this point I woke up. After I got my bearings, my first thought was 'Why was this dream a nightmare?'
You see, this friend did make a similar promise to me several years ago when she moved from Los Angeles back to the East Coast. Predictably, we lost contact after she moved. But then a few years ago, she moved back to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, that hasn't translated into us seeing each other, even though she lives only 2 miles away from me.
I'll admit that I am a bit disappointed we haven't resumed our friendship, but I am not at all surprised. I no longer think it is a realistic goal to stay in contact with every friend I make and now accept that most of the people in my life will come and go.
Perhaps a clue to what made my dream a nightmare lies in this exclamation:
"I have all these illnesses that make traveling next to impossible. There is no way I can travel to Italy, which means we aren't going to be friends anymore."
Living with chronic illness and being disabled makes the reality of both travel to Italy and maintaining friendships a much more difficult proposition.
I think the biggest obstacle I face is how much the people around me underestimate the impact illness has on my life. They really have no idea how little energy I have and how much energy it takes for me to get together with them. Then factor in my limited ability to drive to meet up with friends and the unconventional hours I keep due to my sleep disorders and it seems my lifestyle doesn't mesh with most of my peers' schedules.
Yes, for me right now, having many close friendships is a lot like traveling to Italy: a beautiful dream, but a logistical nightmare.