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Supportive Relationships

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By Celeste Cooper • • December 1, 2016

Supportive Relationships
Living with fibromyalgia can make relationships sometimes challenging. Celeste Cooper has suggestions for building supportive relationships.
Symptoms associated with chronic pain and illness can become an obstacle to building supportive relationships. Sometimes it seems like a tug of war between them and us.

But the fact is no one wants to spend time with constant complainers, and neither should we. Successful people surround themselves with other successful people. That’s the motivation we need in our relationships. 

An intimate relationship is one that allows you to be yourself.  
Deepak Chopra, MD 
That’s not say it isn’t important to be able to share our most intimate feelings with someone, but it’s important to see variety as the spice of life. If nagging on the same old shoe is not helping us find solutions, we are sharing our concerns with the wrong person, or there simply isn’t an immediate solution, we need to reevaluate and accept that different people play different roles in our life. 
How is It Possible?
Pick a hero and really look at what their behaviors would be in a similar situation. What is it about this person that makes us like them? It’s unlikely we would put someone on a pedestal that is a real downer. Pity is NOT what we are looking for. What we all want is mutual respect and admiration. A normal reaction to chronic illness is to become angry, so get angry, but don't stay angry! Love yourself through the process.
What is My End Point?
So, what do we say when we feel lousy and can’t keep a long awaited get together? Ask yourself, "What is my end point?" My personal thinking on this is to make the plans. I put it on my calendar. Why? Because when I am not totally laid out in bed, down for the count, I will make it. There are times when I would cancel, for sure, but there also times when I think I want to cancel but don’t. There is value in spending time with others, and there is value in letting others see us in those semi-states.
My truth is that when I do make myself go, my friends and spouse see I am making an effort. I understand there are times when my friends may not feel like it too, even those who do not live with chronic pain. Will I have a setback? Maybe I will. But I find there is value in diversion, and there is value in socialization. And guess what? When I do have to cancel, there are no questions asked, no negative comments, because my “peeps” know if I could make it, I would. 
Rules for Supportive Relationships  
  • Keep information regarding your illness basic.

  • Don’t isolate yourself from others. 

  • Be willing to make the first move.

  • Keep your support structure trustworthy.

  • Share more positive than negative.

  • Don’t expect others to read your mind.

  • Be patient and keep whining to a minimum.

  • Don’t solicit advice unless you are willing to hear it.

  • When you just need someone to listen, lead with that statement. 

  • Balance your friendships with people who are not sick.

  • Don’t let pain become the object of a tug of war. 

  • Once you have identified a strong support system - maintain it!

  • Identify and act on planning activities or outings.  Everyone is able to make it sometimes.

  • Write down your needs and let your loved one know that you are accountable.

  • Understand everyone has an obstacle to face.  Lend an ear.

  • Let your partner know you may need a reality check from time to time and that you are okay with that.  Then BE OKAY with that.

  • Accept everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.  It's unlikely you will change it, so don't try.  Accept it as their truth.

What is your secret to supportive relationships?  Share with us in the comments below.

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