Sunday, October 21, 2012

Communicate & Compromise: Keep Your Relationships Strong

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change

Courage to change the one I can,

And wisdom to know it’s me.
I wouldn't change him for the world.. :)

Every morning when I wake up I do 3 things: 1. I meditate for 15/20min sitting up in bed/2. I pray and give thanks for everyone and everything./3. I stand up, stretch, say the serenity prayer and walk the dog. 

I began saying the Serenity prayer two years ago in 2010 shortly after another flare, the FIRST time I quit one of my full-time jobs. And actually that was the same year I started this blog. (Are you beginning to see a pattern?) 
Now I can't honestly remember when I heard or learned the serenity prayer, but for some reason it stuck with me and it's helped get me through some of the most difficult times. 
For those who don't know it (no it's not the quote at the top): (Short version)
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference"
Most people know this as the"Alcoholics Anonymous" prayer...and I'll be honest, I don't really know why. Aside from the fact that they start every meeting this way. (Or so I've been told.) But I find that when you live with a chronic illness, this prayer can get you and keep you from hell and back again if you decide to truly live by it. 
I cannot change the fact that I am sick. But I can change what I eat. 

I cannot change that this is forever. But I can change how I react to my flare ups.

I cannot change how people react to my illness. But I can change their understanding of it and of who I am now because of it.
The wisdom I have gained about the last CAN and CANNOT is what I want to blog about today. I believe that whether you are sick or healthy, it is wisdom that everyone can use.
It is what it is...

Relationships are hard. For everyone. Building a relationship, keeping a relationship, rebuilding it etc. And I don't just mean romantic relationships. Friendships, family ties, etc. etc. etc. and on and on the list goes. They are hard because life happens. They are hard because people change and grow apart. They are hard because sometimes we want them to change and they don't. They are hard because we don't give them the time, love, attention and nurture that they deserve (the person or the relationship itself).  
Whatever the reason, if you want to keep a relationship strong or you want to rebuild an existing one, the two most valuable lessons I've learned in my short life is that they cannot function properly without COMMUNICATION and COMPROMISE. 
Each person must be willing to communicate his/her wants, needs, desires and feelings AND each individual must be willing to give a little in order to get a little. Or sometimes, (as can be the case when you're chronically ill or live with chronic pain) give a little and be amazed at how much you actually get back in return. 
When I was first diagnosed, it was difficult for me to accept my limitations. I pushed myself too hard and then paid the price afterwards with 3 days in bed and unbearable pain. I refused to ask for help and I didn't talk about how I was feeling physically or emotionally. I bottled up my pain and insisted on living a "normal" life. In return, I was making me and everyone else around me absolutely miserable. 
When I finally broke down, and realized that I WASN'T indeed Wonder Woman and that I actually did have a wonderful support system that was willing and ready and wanting to help me, a whole new world  opened up for me. 
I began communicating with my husband, friends and family about what I could and couldn't do physically and sometimes even mentally or emotionally. I said things like "No, I can't wash the pots and pans. Can you help me?" or "If I go out to lunch with you I won't be able to go to the movies because I will need to go home and rest." Instead of cancelling plans or hurting people's feelings we had more game nights and BBQ's at our place. I communicated clearly what I needed and in return they actually compromised and were able to not only give me what I needed to survive and function but they also gave me their time and love so we could keep our relationships strong. 
I also learned to listen to my body and what it was communicating to me and I learned how to compromise with myself. Instead of trying to take on the world, I tackled one thing at a time and ALLOWED myself to be ok with accomplishing small goals vs. large insurmountable ones. I no longer beat myself up if I wash the laundry but don't fold it. Or if I have to take a break from sitting at my desk after only 1 hr. I realize it's going to be fine because this is what I need- guilt free.
Family and friends can be surprisingly understanding if you help them understand by communicating. Sure, my illness is "invisible," and many people are thinking "she looks fine." I can't change what they are thinking, but by talking about what's really going on inside of me I can help them better understand that no, I'm not "fine" and what I need is different from what everyone else needs. And that if they are willing to meet me where I'M at, then our relationship can be as strong or even stronger than before. 
I am not who I was before. I have accepted that. Some people in my life have as well. Others have reacted and are still in denial. Some are angry. Some are confused. Some have simply disappeared. I cannot change my fate or my condition. I cannot change how THEY react to it. But what I CAN do is shed light and share the wisdom I have gained about living with these illnesses firsthand. I CAN change how much they understand about what is happening to me. I CAN change my responsibilities in the relationship so there is a sense of balance. 
I know that the rest is up to them. What THEY choose to do with what I give them is something that I have no control over. And in the end, that actually brings me a greater sense of peace than anything else. In the end, I know that I have done what I can to keep the relationship strong and that's all I need. I can actually let go and let God. Let go, and let "them." 
To this day, I can honestly say, that each relationship/friendship etc. that I have approached with this idea of communicate and compromise has survived and even been strengthened overall. There have been struggles, matches of tug of war, misunderstandings, miscommunications and fits of crying, yelling, cancelled plans, undone chores and lonely nights with a glass of wine and cupcakes. And yes, there were some relationships where I chose not to communicate and/or compromise as needed and those relationships have suffered or have been severed. Do I miss them? Yes. Is it for the best? Probably so, but either way I have learned to just let go.

Each relationship is its own beautiful monster that just needs to be held at night and given love. It is not easy. It is even more difficult when you are ill. But in those dark times, on those soul-searching nights, if you have even just one person, one relationship that you can count on to bring youout of the shadows and into the dawn, it is always worth it. 
Tips/ideas for compromising and maintaining healthy relationships:

1. In marriage/romantic relationship/partner- 
Give a little get a lot in return

  •         Do half the dishes and leave the heavy ones for spouse.
  •         Share the kitchen- one chops veggies the other makes the rice or cooks veggies
  •         Schedule specific chores for ONLY those days and stick to it! (Sunday Laundry day, Monday bathroom 1, Sweep on Wednesdays, Dishes every other day)
  •         Have those “ain’t never gonna do them” chores, for me it’s mopping, I only mop if something spills, looks brown or I’m having people lots of ppl.  Mopping hurts my back, my hands, my shoulders and my sanity. If it bothers spouse so much, they’ll do it!
Social Activities:
Salsa Dancing...
  •         If we go out to a “fun place” today we rest or do something “boring” tomorrow.
  •        Or if we’re gonna have “fun” you have to serve me lol or not force me to move or talk to people.
  •         Hubby wants to go to a sporting event? Let him go with a friend but force him to take pictures and send them to you

      • OR Tell him you’d rather host a BBQ with a few friends to watch it at home and allow yourself to go to bed when you’re tired without feeling guilty!  His friends and mine know that when I’m tired, I’m tired and I’m gonna go to sleep…especially if I’m at my own house!
With yourself:

Allow yourself not to be perfect
Your face...your face
  • Washed the laundry? Throw yourself a party, don’t feel disappointed cause you didn’t put it away. 

  • Tell yourself what you will and won’t do for the day and be truly ok with it.

  • Today I will load the dishwasher and sweep'

  • Today I will not mop, because I can do that tomorrow since no one is coming over and the floors aren’t sticky. 
  • When you’ve done what you said you would- rest, take a bath, read a good book celebrate the success with your spouse. 
Friends & Family:
They want to see you, you want to see them.
New Year's w/Friends
  • Invite them over and have a pot luck. You provide salad and drinks(something you don’t have to work to make!) Insta girls’ night!
  • House not up to visitors? See if one of your close girlfriends can pick you up and host it at her place. Again, take a salad! Curl up on couches and chat the night away. 

Get a really close friend/your mom/sister/daughter

  • If you’re up for it go to the Dollar Store and buy some cheap funky nail color.
  • Go home and give each other mani/pedis
  • Massage hands/feet whatever you’re comfortable with and talk and hang out
  • Can’t paint your nails?- Bake or cook something together. You can sit and chop, cut or mix
  • ingredients and she can stand and do the heavy lifting…you’re still bonding!
  • Too tired to move! Find a favorite short story online or in a book and read them to each other on the
  • couch. They can be funny, serious whatever!

Essentially DON’T compromise your health for those who aren't willing to compromise for the relationship. Balance is hard but not impossible and it takes time to master so allow yourself to be patient while you figure out what works for each of you! Truth is if you tell people what you need so they can still be an integral part of your life, those who love you WILL give you what you need. And they may not even realize how much they’re giving! 


  1. Jasminne thank you for your post. I must start by saying your a very beautiful young lady you have a loving & caring spirt omg when I read your post I almost cryed I truly get what your saying I was that super women I did everything for everybody it's very hard to give up my role. I know I have too if I want to be around and learn how to take it easy and appreciate life.Take one day at a time. My boyfriend ask me to marry him three weeks ago I did not give him a answer as of yet. I feel like I dont want toburden him with my illness I've known him since the seventh grade where now in the 40's club. I know it's just me but I don't to burden him. by seeing you and your husband wedding pictures it's given me hope thank you for sharing your story may God bless you and your family.....

  2. Paula, I'm glad my words/story had an impact on you. That is all I truly want. To help others who are afflicted with this illness in whatever small or large way possible. I believe that if this man says he loves you despite this illness, if he's been there and is STILL willing to be with you, then HANG ON TIGHT GIRL! Although I said yes right away when my hubby proposed, we did have a conversation shortly after where I gave him the opportunity to walk away scott free because I knew it was not going to be easy. And our marriage hasn't been "easy." Our honeymoon phase ended before it began, with me LITERALLY ending up in the hospital/ER while on our honeymoon!! Lol But our trials and tribulations have made us the "power couple" that all our friends and family look up to. We've learned to communicate better and be loving with each other because it's the only way for this marriage and for the both of us to survive. We both know that one day he may have to wait on me hand and foot (and he already has during my flares) but that doesn't stop us from loving each other as much and as best as we can NOW. It's day by day and I don't know where I'd be without him. Take the love that is given to you and enjoy it with every fiber of your being, it makes the physical pain so much easier to deal with. I wish you luck and I hope you make the right decision.