And it’s hard.
In my experience my illness/diagnosis bonded us, but also took a toll on my relationship,. When I was diagnosed I had periods of feeling closer in my relationship: like we were a team, like we were beating this together, like if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything. It was the experience of bonding through trauma.
And then came the moments where I felt anger, resentment, shame:
No, I’m not healthy yet (will I ever be healthy?). Stop expecting me to be on a different timeline than I am. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to be normal.
No, I still don’t want to have sex. I don’t know if I ever will.
You know what, you don’t even get me anymore. This relationship is broken.
I’m a different person now then when we met.
We all do the best that we can. Maybe we grow closer together, and maybe we grow farther apart, and there’s also a whole realm of combo deals out there as well. There are as many scenarios as there are facets to relationship.
Main point: when things happen to us personally the person we’re in a relationship with takes the most direct hit. Diagnosis in not fair to anyone in the relationship.
We want to protect each other from the pain we’re in, from the fear of our own and each other’s mortality, from the reality of the truth. So we stay quiet. As much as this is a noble cause we also miss out on support, and being seen in our pain.
So if you want to be in a real-ationship, my encouragement is to keep communicating. The harder it gets to be honest about the pain you’re in: be brave and share it. It’s only going to be worse if you’re holding it in and not sharing, and both people feel isolated and unseen in the relationship. Hard things, are, well, they’re hard to share. Sometimes impossible. But we have to take each other along on the journey if we want to stay together and grow. If we want a real-ationship.
So what would happen if the things that you think you can’t share about your medical experience, you actually chose to share?
And what would happen if at the same time you could trust your partner to let you know when they need a break from talking about it, and that you’ll come back to it, but you don’t take it personally?
This gives everyone an opportunity to be with each other in a crisis when we need each other the most, with enough space to deal with their own issues. That’s part of one definition of compassion: having all the love in the world, but with a little bit of space.
Everyone gets to be responsible for their own experience, and also be deeply loved. We get both autonomy and support. We get to rock each other to sleep.
But, here’s the trick: it’s a practice, and it can feel hard, scary, and vulnerable… but at the end of the day do you want to be in a real-ationship or not?
If so, get brave, and get sharing.
Does this seem true for you? Comment below: