Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Support Systems-one of the keys to healing.

“We don't heal in isolation, but in community.” 

I was watching a talk show that I had DVR'd this morning and they were updating a story that they were following of a young woman (about 10 yrs younger than me) who has been battling cervical cancer.  In discussing this incredibly difficult journey she talked about how her support system and how very important they are in her journey.  I wanted to give her a High-5 because I completely agree that our support system is crucial to our acceptance of living with a devastating illness.

I cannot express how important that my support system is to me.  From my husband who helps me out in a myriad of ways on a daily basis, to my friends who are always- morning, noon and night- just a phone call away, to my parents and siblings who are just wonderful; I know how blessed I am to have such a terrific group of folks to lift me up when I am down and make living with an incurable illness...easier.

I have seen so many times when a person is fighting a horrible illness and their relationships melt away.  Whether it's because the other person could not "handle" going through the hard parts with you or they just feel inadequate and just don't know what to say or do to help so they withdraw completely, losing an important relationship during a tough time just compounds the devastation.  When you don't have someone to lean on, someone to count on, it can magnify the battle and make it that much more difficult.

I know first hand how it feels to have this happen.  I have seen some relationships that were important to me melt away since my diagnosis and my move and it hurts.  What was most helpful to me was to forgive them.  I had to look into my heart and say "This hurts but I get it."  It doesn't make it "right" but it does lessen the toll it takes on my stress level and my mental and emotional state.  Letting them go and wishing nothing but peace and happiness for them while I get on with my life was like releasing a burden that I was carrying on my shoulders.  I can't control my illness.  I can't control how someone else is feeling.  What I can control is how I deal with it.  I didn't tell them that I forgave them.  I didn't do it for them, I did it for me.  It was my peace of mind that was most affected, it was my hurt so it was for me that I let it all go.  Because I was able to forgive, if they come back in my life I will welcome them.  Perhaps I will not trust so easily, but I will be open to allowing them to be part of my circle again.

I cannot speak for everyone, but for me, the support I need is pretty simple:

1-  You don't have to physically be there, but let me know that you are "there" if I need to talk.
2-  You can just send me a text that says "Hey- I am thinking of you."  Often that is enough to turn a bad day       into a not so bad day.
3-  You can understand that I am no longer the "burning the candle at both ends and the middle" person I was when you knew me.  If I say that I can't do something-it's because I am wiped out, not because I can't be bothered.
4-  If you are with me on a regular basis- keep in mind that what I can do today, I may not be able to do so easily tomorrow.
5-  Respect my limitations but don't treat me like I am an invalid.  I know when I need help and most of the time I will ask if I need it.
6-  Most of all, understand that despite the changes that I have had to make physically- I am still me.  I haven't changed emotionally, I haven't changed the core of who I am.  Treat me like ME.

That all I've got so I will leave you with this:

“Encourage, lift and strengthen one another. For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all.” 

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