strife – noun – angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict. “strife within the community”
synonyms: conflict, friction, discord, disagreement, dissension, dispute, argument, quarreling, wrangling, bickering, controversy
For two weeks, my beloved online community for Sarcoidosis has been dealing with strife. I have successfully stayed out of the fray but feel compelled to write about its impact.
Let me start by saying that I have not felt this level of strife since I became sick. My so-called friends just faded away when I could no longer be their good-time girl, their shelter in a storm, their staunch supporter, or their financial solution. There were no angry words, no fall-out fighting, no insults, no bickering. They just walked away, no phone calls, no e-mails, no slowed progression of contact, just gone.
I felt abandoned at first. I got over it. I had too much to deal with having Sarcoidosis and trying to live. A social life was too much to ask for anyway.
A few years in, I found this awesome on-line community of Sarc sufferers just like me. They were kind and supportive, funny and compassionate, sick and sometimes sad, creative and passionate and I was so very grateful to have this venue in my ‘new’ small world. Like any group of friends, we can debate, argue, make-up, agree to disagree and move on. However, unlike most groups of friends, we come from all over the world. We have different religions, politics, upbringing, attitudes, and experiences.
It is awesome. I can log on any given day and get a boost to my spirit, read a funny story, cry about someone who is facing issues I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and give or receive sage advice on just about anything. Sounds like a sick person’s Utopia, doesn’t it? Well, it is. To some, it is the only social lifeline we have. When the world cannot understand us, we can understand each other. We can talk about things that our family and friends will never
hear. We feel safe, protected, empowered with the others that are just like us.
Just like any community, there is a hierarchy. There are those that are more knowledgable, more sympathetic, more seasoned, more vocal and yes, even more confrontational when challenged. And, as in any community, there are many more that stay quietly ‘behind the scenes’ reading, learning, drawing strength from those that speak out. All of these people add value to my daily life.
That is why I choose to stay out of it. I am an underdog supporter. I will stand for the weak. The strong can speak for themselves and make decisions based on what is best for them. I respect those choices. And, therein lies the rub. This recent strife has disrupted our support system. It has placed a burden on numerous people, a burden that should not be there. Some have left the site, possibly for good, and some are just not coming around
much. Like any space that is created, it will be filled. I can only hope that it is filled with the same level of personal fortitude and wisdom that has been lost.
So, while I understand strife to be an important element to experience and learn from, sometimes, I think it is better to look to the greater good. The newly diagnosed, the extreme circumstances, the lost and the lonely. They are the ones that need this community. They are the ones that will benefit. They are the ones that will go on to help others. But have you ever heard the term, ‘you can’t get there from here’? That is how I feel. I am conflicted in responding because I care about those people. I do not want them to skip my posts because I show an ugly side. I do not want them to turn a deaf ear when I could have valuable information or insight to share. Sounds egotistical? Probably because it is. I have put myself out there many times and feeling so vulnerable can not be in vain. That is unacceptable to me.
My intent here is not to stir the pot. I do not want excuses, reasons or to rehash what is right or wrong. I want to encourage, I want to inspire. I want to learn.
What have I learned? I have learned that people will come and go in my life. I can accept that but don’t have to like it. I have learned that no matter how I feel about strife, I can not stop it, change it, or redirect it. I have learned that I don’t have to fight everyone’s battles for them but allow them do what is best for them. I have learned that change isn’t always good. I have learned that resiliency is about the only thing I can encourage.