You never think about relationships to help heal the gut until you realize that relationships, good or bad, help heal or reverse progress on your gut healing.
In an episode of Sex and the City, Carrie says,
But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.
Relationships to Help Heal the Gut
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I learned a long time ago the importance of relationships and overall health and healing. In fact, it’s a primary vs. secondary food. You wouldn’t guess it, but it is. And because I’ve lived it, I will attest to it.
Our relationships help define us.
Similar to how food helps or hurts our gut-healing process, so do these relationships. This is because, in the end, relationships will make us happy and have us striving daily for our very best or they will cause us misery and stress.
The gut halts its healing when misery and stress linger.
And I’ve talked about this consistently and unapologetically for years now.
But I’m returning to a conversation around relationships because you’ve asked me to.
So here you go…..
If you like this information, it is covered + more in Gut Healing for Beginners – week 4.
The questions was,
How do you form new relationships when you’re on your healing journey?
The answer is, “carefully.”
Here’s the reality, it’s no picnic for the people involved with your healing journey. I know that we like to think that this journey is only about us.
It’s painful, frustrating, and downright dirty a lot of the times. But all of those things bleed out onto the people in our lives as well. So whatever you do, please don’t think that you’re the only person being affected.
Now that we are clear on that, the way you go about forming new relationships is by understanding:
Can I be open and honest up front about my situation?
Especially if this is a romantic relationship of any sort, you do not want to enter the relationship coming off as an entirely different person than what you truly are. It’s not fair to them nor is it fair to you.
Are they capable of caring and providing in the ways you’ll need?
Everyone’s situation and healing journey is different. Some of you have a milder condition, and others have something where you’re hospitalized frequently. And not everyone is built for the “staying power.” But no matter your condition, you need to only invite new relationships in who do have the staying power.
Be who you are.
This sort of goes along with number 1, but you must remember to be exactly who you are from the get-go. If your illness makes you angry, bitter, and draining, then you need to show that side immediately. Seriously. I didn’t, and it could have cost me big time. And I know other people who didn’t and it did cost them. (But also I would tell you to work on that and get help with processing it.) You know what? The right relationships will be there even if and even though you have your moments.
Another question was this,
How can I deal with family and friends who constantly say nothing is wrong? And who also don’t understand the strict diet?
This is a fantastic question. In fact, it’s one I struggled with big time on my healing journey.
The immediate reaction to both of those is pure madness. I felt it all. So here is exactly how I dealt with it:
How much do you need them?
This one is harsh, but I’m being very honest. If there is a certain family member or friend who constantly tells you nothing is wrong or criticizes your diet, then maybe you don’t need them so closely in your life. Seriously, the drain of feeling like crap, not getting answers, and also following stringent diets is enough. You don’t need to add more stress to the equation. If you don’t fully need them in your life, distance. No need to cut ties completely, but you don’t need to spend more time with them. But if you do need them in your life, then….
Let’s assume you’ve never stood up for yourself yet. In this case, start there. You don’t have to be lengthy or negative. It can be a response as simple as, “I’m trying to navigate this all the best I can with the help of my doctor(s). I don’t expect you to understand, but I don’t need the added stress.” And if you don’t want to tell them straight-forward like that because you don’t like any kind of confrontation (HIIIIII that’s me!), then you could choose a response like this….
“I understand that it seems weird that I can’t have apples and garlic in the meal you’ve prepared. The meal looks wonderful, and I don’t want you to have to worry about me. I’m here for the company and conversation and brought some things to prepare for myself.” And yes, this is actually something I have done. I have physically gotten up from a situation, and drove to the nearest grocery store to grab ingredients. Full disclosure, I did it far more passive-aggressively, but nonetheless, those are the words I used.
What is Not your job
Here is what I know for sure.
It’s not your job to….
- convince people that what you are feeling is valid
- ensure that all your relationships know every last thing about your condition, medications, supplements, and what you can and cannot eat
- justify anything
- act and react to appease someone else’s insecurities about your condition at the expense of your own self
- beg for understanding
To be perfectly honest, Carrie was right. Here are the two main relationships to nurture: the one you have with yourself and any relationships where people are accepting you as you are.
What this looks like for me today (and has looked like throughout my own journey) is nurturing:
- God, and my faith
- Ryan, and our marriage
- Family; namely immediate, and also extended
- Friends, but I keep very few super close to the vest
Because all of the above fit my criteria as partners throughout my healing journey.
You should accept nothing less.
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You will heal. I will help.