Did Cupid Miss? Finding True Love Wherever it Lies

By: Jeri Burtchell

Ah, February! The prelude to spring and the time of year when happy couples profess their love for one another on Valentine’s Day. What could be wrong with that?

Well, sometimes real life falls short of “Sleepless in Seattle”. A study published in 2010 says that folks with MS have a greater likelihood of ending up divorced than other couples. Odds are, someone with MS who is reading this spent Valentine’s Day alone. No amount of chocolate can make that pill any less bitter to swallow.

When I learned the MSAA blog theme for February would be “love”, I decided to explore the less traveled paths to the heart. Instead of romantic love, this is for all of you who are facing MS head-on and doing it solo. For everyone who thinks the groundhog predicted six more weeks of loneliness.

Everywhere you look in early February, friends are doting on their better halves in tweets and status updates. Pictures of happy couples abound. Even those with MS seem happily connected to the “best husband ever” or “the most amazing wife.” You don’t see anyone saying “I’m single, yay me! I’m doing just fine.”

But there is love beyond romance and I want to draw your eye to it. If you focus on the love that you do have, then perhaps it will ease the sting of having to say “table for one, please.”

Most of us have the love of family that surrounds us. Think about that sister or brother, mother or father, aunt or uncle who is there for you. Helping you cope, caring how you feel, sharing good times and bad. That is love.

Even if you are divorced, there’s a good chance you have kids. They love you, right? Don’t roll your eyes at me that way. Romantic love may come and go, but the bond between parent and child will last a lifetime. That is also love.

No kids, no family, no significant other? Don’t stop looking for the love that seems elusive. Just look a little closer. You may be overlooking a love right under your nose. Literally. Look down. See some little eyes in a furry face looking back up? That, my friend, is love…or it could be hunger. (Nah, it’s probably love).

The unconditional love of a pet is real and powerful. Besides love, the Centers for Disease Control says that having a pet can lower our blood pressure and triglyceride levels, plus chase away our loneliness. They also give us a reason to exercise and opportunities to socialize while we’re at it. Just ask Sheryl about her Teeny Tiny Mighty MS Mascot.

What’s that you say? You have no family, no close friends? Your kids are grown and gone? You’re allergic to pets? All hope is not lost. The camaraderie of an online community may fill the emptiness you feel. Reach out and connect. Meeting others with MS can be rewarding, reassuring and often leads to lifelong friendships. I can honestly say some of the most meaningful friendships I have now began online.

Last but not least, there’s one final love you’ve had by your side all along, although you may have never noticed. You overlooked it while you were pursuing Prince Charming or Mrs. Right. It’s the person who will be by your side through thick and thin no matter what. It’s you.

When you learn to be your own best friend you’ll never be alone. Explore hobbies that give you satisfaction. Read books, go jogging, take a bubble bath, buy yourself a little something. When you see that gorgeous sunset, your first thought won’t be “Oh, if only I had someone to share it with.” Don’t gauge the pleasure of the moment by someone else’s reaction. It’s okay to love the sunset all by yourself.

So if February isn’t your favorite month and all this lovey-dovey stuff your friends are sharing gets you down, just try to focus on all the other love that surrounds you. And cheer up! March is just around the corner and we can soon celebrate MS Awareness Month together.

My parting shot to the romance of February as it heads out the door is, “Yay me! I’m doing just fine.”

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20483882

http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm

http://contributors.healthline.com/family/my-teeny-tiny-mighty-ms-mascot

*Jeri Burtchell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. She has spoken from a patient perspective at conferences around the country, addressing social media and the role it plays in designing clinical trials. Jeri is a MS blogger, patient activist, and freelance writer for the MS News Beat of Healthline.com. She lives in northeast Florida with her youngest son and elderly mother. When not writing or speaking, she enjoys crafting and photography.

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Intimacy- It’s Not Just About the Physical Relationship

Often when one thinks about intimacy, they think of sex. Intimacy is a process that can involve sex, but does not necessarily have to. Intimacy is defined as “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group” (www.dictionary.com). 

There are various forms in which an intimate relationship can occur. One form of intimacy is intellectual intimacy where two people “exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions.” If they can do this in an open and comfortable way, then they can become quite intimate in an intellectual way. This relationship can occur with a close co-worker or neighbor, in an on-line forum, or with a pen-pal. 

A second form of intimacy is experiential intimacy. With this type of intimacy, individuals would get together to “actively involve themselves with each other.” This can differ from a friendship in that the individuals do not exchange thoughts or feelings. They are just involved in mutual activities. This relationship could occur in an aerobics class, or at a religious center, for example.    

A third form of intimacy is emotional intimacy, where two individuals can “comfortably share their feelings with each other or when they empathize with the feelings of the other person, really try to understand and try to be aware of the other person’s emotional side.” This relationship typically occurs between partners, family members, or close friends. Emotional intimacy may also occur in support groups, where individuals connect on an emotional level because they share similar experiences. 

Every intimate relationship does not have to include all the different aspects or types of intimacy that have been mentioned. Many intimate relationships can exist in any one of the forms mentioned, or any combination of those forms.

This Valentine’s day, be aware of yourself and your emotional needs. Start with the form of intimacy where you feel most comfortable, and reach out to someone close to you. You do not need to be in a physical relationship in order to experience intimacy. 

References:

https://www.counseling.ufl.edu/cwc/types-of-intimacy.aspx

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Intimacy

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Tips for Celebrating Valentine’s Day

The annual holiday that celebrates the expression of love with tasty treats and heartfelt greetings actually has a bit of a mysterious origin. There are different notions and theories that describe this lover’s holiday that have been depicted throughout ancient times, though its actual history is still undefined. To learn more about some of the history associated with Valentine’s Day and its legends, see http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day.

No matter its origin or historical connotation, Valentine’s Day remains one of the most celebrated holidays in our history. It is the second largest card-sending holiday behind Christmas, with women purchasing the majority of the greetings sent. Candy hearts, chocolates and flowers are exchanged to signify the celebration and have been widely rsz_young_couple_smiling_at_each_otherrecognized as hallmarks of the holiday. But these gifts aren’t the only way to express your gratitude and love for another person. Spending quality time with people you love, whether it be family, friends, or a significant other, can show how much you appreciate someone.

Here are some tips on how to celebrate the upcoming holiday:

  • Invite a friend or family member to celebrate the day with you if you’re not romantically attached. The day is about spending time with those you care for; it doesn’t have to be exclusively for couples!
  • Why not stay in? You can make the day about spending time together just watching a movie or playing a game at home.
  • Think creatively and go homemade style for gifts! Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to break the bank, why not make something to give the person you care for?
  • Use the day to express to others how much they mean to you. Tell someone you love them and that you appreciate them and what they bring to your life, not just on this holiday, but all year round!

However you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, think of its mystery and indefinite nature, as this provides opportunity for you to find your own niche in making the day special!

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