One of the first things that I did after my accident, once I had realised that I wasn’t going to be all healed and out of hospital quickly was delete about 75% of my ‘friends’ on Facebook. From going to a few schools and then on to Uni, and then travelling a bit I had definitely acquired a lot of Facebook friends. But like most people I only ever talked to a very small proportion of them. To be honest I am not a massive fan of Facebook…I think it is only really used for two things.. stalking and showing off. And yes of course I do both of these things, but since my accident I really don’t have much to make people jealous of. And if I do spend time seeing what people are up to (otherwise known as Facebook stalking) then I just wind myself up in a slightly jealous ‘why can’t my life be that simple and easy and fun’ rage and I end up being really upset. Soooo I tend to avoid Facebook as much as possible.
So when I was newly injured I had a friend cull and deleted all the people that I never ever contact because let’s face it, I was about to become a good story to them and nothing else. I didn’t want people knowing about my accident, or being a piece of gossip…’Did you hear about that girl who fell off a balcony in Morocco and blah blah blah….’ I had started to hear rumours from people I knew from when I was living and working in Cornwall; the two main ones were that I had fallen off a horse and broken my neck (no idea where that had come from seeing as I am scared of horses and haven’t ridden one since I was about 10) and that I had died. Charming. The weird thing is that none of these people bothered to try and ring me or send me a personal message asking me what had happened, they just enjoyed talking about me and spreading rumours. These types of people were easy to just delete and forget (I know that sounds really harsh) because it was pretty evident that they were never really great friends in the first place.
At the complete opposite end of the scale I had a small number of AMAZING friends who I know for sure are keepers! My sister rang a few of them the day after my accident, and they are the ones that were there from the start and are still here now. I have constant contact with them…text, email, BBM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter.. and they all make so much effort to come and see me or to invite me to places. And they don’t treat me differently. They treat me the same as before, but they are just more aware of accessibility of places and of activities that are fun but suitable (nightclubs are sadly out of the question for me now!) They have accepted the new dynamic of our friendship and adjustment hasn’t been a massive issue.
Somewhere in the middle of these two groups there is another set of people, and they are so much harder to define, and they are the ones that make me sad. It’s the people who I thought were my good friends, and some of them even started off by being there. A couple of hospital visits, a few phone calls, then a text every once in a while, but then they just sort of drifted away. I could sense their awkwardness around me and treating me differently despite my best efforts to assure them I am still the same person. And yes I could have persisted with initiating contact and meeting up, but honestly if they weren’t making an effort to be there for me when I really needed all the support I could get, then I guess they don’t really care that much about me. But it has been pretty gutting to have people that were a massive part of my life to basically disappear completely and make me even more aware of my disability.
The last group of friends are the people that I have met as a result of my accident. They didn’t know me before, and most of them are related to SCI in some way, whether they are a trainer, physio, someone with a SCI etc. These people tend to be extremely positive and inspiring in one way or another, and I consider myself so lucky to have met them, as I never would have done before my injury. None of them judge me, resent me or treat me differently, and they make me feel normal again, which is pretty awesome!
So my Facebook friend list may not be in the hundreds, but the ones I do have are pretty incredible and that more than makes up for it.