#FL – Friendship For Life

With IBD, I’ve found that it’s the little things that matter most. In fact, I’ve learned that something as insignificant as a hashtag can make a great and lasting impact. Especially in a world where hope seems to evade us at times. Let me explain.

Pain and frustrations led me to an app

In 2012, it was a few years of being symptomatic. I began experiencing more and more moments that pulled me from my everyday life. Pain and frustration and living in the bathroom led me to join an app with the primary purpose of keeping better track of my symptoms. That app had a social forum. It’s where I met my very first IBD friends. Several of those conversations transitioned from the app’s shared space to direct messages, to text messages, or to phone calls and FaceTime. A whole world of support opened.

A special friend

There was one friend in particular with whom it was incredibly easy to talk to, even about the most frustrating and normally private things. I started to find that this friend was there around the clock to offer me legitimate company and support. He was there whether I wanted to talk about the problem, find a solution, complain, or simply just be distracted. The more we talked, the more I felt like we had an honest type of connection. He felt like family to me.

In the summer of 2014, we had the opportunity to plan a visit. We were texting non-stop about the things we wanted to do and share and talk about. We joked about how one of our favorite pastimes, texting or stealing facebook statuses and commenting entirely using hashtags, would be different face to face. Then he made a joke about how I would be stuck with him for life. The most important thing that has come out of our friendship was born at that moment, the hashtag #FL (for life).

For the last several years, I have referred to this friend as my brother from another mother. We have even developed some of our communication through the distance to make our conversations more fun and personal. Regardless, #FL has remained our constant.

#FL

Whether it’s to cheer on one another during incredibly difficult moments, to provide encouragement as we are reaching to succeed or to make us each feel less alone, we have texted that short hashtag. That large symbol, back and forth hundreds of times. As time has progressed, and we’ve been in and out of romantic relationships, our friendship and true sibling bond has been an incredible anchor for us both. My for life friend has also taught me how to set healthy boundaries. This is both in our friendship and in my other relationships. We created purposeful boundaries at the beginning to ensure that #FL could and would always be there. Those boundaries also created lines. This ensured that our friendship would never take the place of significant others when that time came. It’s taught me that anyone can create a #FL friendship with the right boundaries and understandings.

Instant support

Over time, we’ve individually faced challenges with our health. We’ve faced challenges with insurance and medications, with side effects, and when we’ve been too sick to speak or move. But across the distance, we’ve always been able to provide instant support to each other. To have somebody understand nearly every single aspect of my illness and the ways in which I cope with it has been invaluable to me. I am forever grateful.

Do you have a rock solid, dependable, always in your corner friend in the IBD community? Give them a shout out below to thank them for having your back even as they fight their own battles. How lucky are we to have such empathetic and compassionate friends in our corner who also understand the idiosyncrasies of these frustrating IBD journeys?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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