Living in a community and having friends is different. I live in a community, and I am thankful for that community, but I am also thankful for those in the community who are my friends. My final blessing for this year are my many friends made in the three online communities I am a part of.
When I speak of friends, I mean the people who are willing to laugh, cry and support me daily. People who I care for as much as they care for me. Some share the conditions, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis, and some who have similar conditions. These people are my rock and they are always willing to give a word of support, a kind note or in some cases tell me to get up and move on.
Online friendships are sometimes difficult to maintain as people lose interest and move on. I understand that, and I am happy for that ability. But the people who stick it out day to day are to be celebrated.
I am part of a small group some with RA but all with type 1 diabetes. We have never met as a group and some members I have not met personally. But we are all accountable for one thing. We say three good words each and every day. We can pick the words and sometimes those are happy and sometimes they are angry. But each day they are our own personal three words.
It is a way for the six of us to check in daily. Of course, we say a lot more in our forum. We send pictures and laugh, and we sometimes cry and offer support. But no matter; to be part of this group you must check in each day seven days a week. When we invite someone to join, they must make the commitment to say three good words daily. It is sometimes difficult to find those three good words and friends are there to help when we cannot find them.
In the RA community, I am part of Joint Decisions. It is a small group of people who are bound together to find ways to help patients with Rheumatic conditions find information and a collective voice. When we gather we laugh, take photos and find the commonality in our lives. Like three good words, we watch out for and care for each other.
Of course, I also value the many friendships I have formed in the larger communities that I participate in. The Mighty, CreakyJoints, and TUDiabetes all have allowed me to form individual and lasting friendships that sustain me.
So for this season of blessings, I am blessed by these close relationships I have been able to cultivate in my online communities. They help me know I am not alone. Because as we say at TUDiabetes, no one should face Diabetes (RA, Ankylosing Spondylitis) alone. Because of my friends, I am not facing these things alone.