Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

The Relationship Super Highway

Our lives are both complicated and enriched by our relationships.  They can boost us up as easily as tear us down.  I’m in Chicago for the week and on the radio on my way to the airport the DJ’s were talking about “frenemies”.  It’s hard to understand how someone can be both a friend and an enemy.  Isn’t life way too short to have to worry about constantly compromising ourselves for the sake of relationships that may not mean very much to us.  On the other hand what do you do when someone has a different understanding of your relationship and it confuses you, but doesn’t seem to confuse them?

Once upon a time I had a colleague that over time became friendly with; spending a lot of time together and eventually considering a business collaboration.  One evening I invited her to an event I was attending (we’d already been friends for six years) and following that event never heard from her again.  I did get a call from her during the election season asking me on her way to hear Obama speak if I wanted to join her.  After no relationship for a year I received an e-mail from her asking me to assist in a marketing evaluation she’s doing for her business.  So where is this leading?  After an intense friendship she abandoned the relationship and now thinks she’s banked enough good will to assist in her business…you can stop laughing now.

So where am I going with this?  When facing any type of health challenge your energy has to be reserved for those relationships that bring you joy and comfort.  The relationships you have should be the source of energy and vitality.  They should be relationships where you don’t question any part of the relationship because that just saps your energy.  Your relationships should be those things that are part of your personal infrastructure (as I discussed last week) and not a pork project.  Don’t feel that you have to be friends with someone because it looks good or you’re expected to based on your social circles. 

I’m telling this story as an example.  There was a time when I was disappointed and confused about what happened, so what’s different about now?  I am taking care of me and thinking about that relationship was a drain.  Relationships need to be two-way or they don’t work.  If a relationship is dragging you down ask why you’re still in the relationship.  I’d rather have a few very close friends than lots of acquaintances.  My relationships are my fountain of youth and healing.  They are with people who lift me up, encourage me and will tell me when I need to get back up on the horse.

If your relationships aren’t empowering you how is it helping your immune system?  If your relationships take more than energy than they produce your inner well will run dry and then you’re left dazed and confused?  How do you assess which relationships are good for you?  If some of your relationships are draining how will you detach from the negativity that comes with those interactions?  If you’re continuously let down by the relationship how is it reinforcing your plan for wellness which should include putting yourself first?


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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