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Believe Me: My Battle With The Invisible
Disability of Lyme Disease
By Yolanda Hadid (Foster)
Disability of Lyme Disease
By Yolanda Hadid (Foster)
The Key to Holding a Relationship Together When
One Person Has Chronic Lyme
How can Romeo and Juliet’s story of being star-crossed lovers help preserve the love of a relationship heavily burdened by chronic Lyme disease? Well, the love Romeo and Juliet had for each other was true, but what could not be avoided was the tragic fate of their love - death. You see, they are famously coined as being “star-crossed lovers”, a term that, in a nutshell, describes two people who are immensely in love, but can’t preserve that love due to the unfortunate fate bestowed upon that love by the stars; a simple belief that stars controlled human destiny, and the destiny of Romeo and Juliet’s love was to end in tragedy.
In modern times, we know that the stars don’t control human destiny and the odds that they did in the past are very, very unlikely. The relationship between stars and people is one that science brought forth some 50 years ago in which it was made known that the elements that comprise the human body, derived from stars -- that manufactured those elements within their cores -- billions of years ago; sweet digression.
The Lesson Romeo & Juliet teaches us
A relationship in which one person has chronic Lyme disease would likely not be influenced by the stars as much as it would be by the Lyme itself. While it would then be easy and make sense to coin the term “Lyme-crossed lovers” for such a relationship, the term itself still truly doesn’t define the fate of that relationship. Yes, chronic Lyme disease is life shattering, socially disconnecting, emotionally dissolving, and financially draining, but despite this reality, the fate of any relationship injected with chronic Lyme disease can never have its fate determined by Lyme alone. In fact, there is no fate determined by a relationship in which one person suffers from chronic Lyme disease. Any outcome completely comes down to the decisions made between two people - a fate that which is entirely in their control.
So while Romeo and Juliet showed us that, by being star-crossed lovers, the stars would ultimately decide their fate, a relationship consisting of Lyme-crossed lovers -- while surely influenced -- can never have its fate be determined by Lyme alone. Furthermore, the glue that keeps a relationship, influenced by chronic Lyme, together, is one that will need a greater commitment from both ends, understanding, and a new perspective of what it means to be in a relationship.
Why relationships influenced by Lyme fail
While there are many personal reasons unique to a relationship that can and have led to the downfall of a relationship -- notice “love” wasn’t used here -- one common reason is the partner not distressed with chronic Lyme makes no, or very little, effort to understand and adapt to what their Lyme inflicted partner is enduring. But we can’t blame the downfall of a relationship solely on the partner deficient of Lyme. A relationship’s very foundation and core is based on the mutual effort put forth by both partners - not just one. If a person with chronic Lyme disease makes no effort to preserve a relationship, especially when their partner has done so, the relationship will fail. The objective to keeping the relationship alive is to not only learn and understand what the other partner in the relationship is feeling, it’s absolutely essential for each to adapt to their difficult, but preservable relationship.
How to adapt to a relationship burdened by Lyme
Before adaptation can occur within a relationship, it’s critical that not only the person not afflicted with Lyme understand what their Lyme burdened partner is dealing with, but the person with chronic Lyme must understand the impact of their disease on their partner. It is absolutely essential that each member of the relationship have a copy of this information. Once both partners are in complete understanding of each other’s perspectives and feelings, the adaptation can occur and will need to because tending a relationship when one person has chronic Lyme cannot be upheld and sustained by the methods, rules, and standards that govern a Lyme-free relationship.
Perspective for the Lyme deficient partner
For the partner deficient of chronic Lyme disease, you must understand that chronic Lyme disease is a biological hijacking. In short, this means that pretty much every part of a person’s body can become burdened by Lyme. Your partner is dealing with debilitating, bizarre, and unprecedented physical and mental symptoms on a consistent basis. They’re coming to terms and dealing with their own inability to remain an active participant in their own life. Chronic Lyme disease is yet to be acknowledged by the medical community on a ubiquitous scale and so there is no clear cut path to ameliorating the disease immediately with professional help.
Adaptation for the Lyme deficient partner
Adaptation for you is giving your partner the alone time they need to cope with their condition when they need it. Hassling and burdening a person with chronic Lyme disease who is having a bad day will only further seclude them from not just life, but you as well. For them, having alone time is sometimes their greatest coping mechanism because of the dismantling nature of the disease.
When your Lyme burdened partner makes it known they’re under the weather and having a bad day, your first reaction would likely be to ask how you can make their day better, because you want to -- you care about them! This is the assumed natural order of how such a scenario would unfold, but this is where you evolve and adapt. Your partner has made it known what you can or can’t do to make them feel better and how you respond will need to be your evolution. If your partner requests your presence or some other favor, go for it, but if your Lyme burdened partner needs to be alone, let them be alone. Of course, offer your help if they decide they need it, and leave it at that. This may not be easy to do the first, second, or third time around as everything inside of you may demand a voice of answers and explanation from your Lyme afflicted partner.
But once you realize the outcome of going against the grain, and granting your partner the alone time they need, it'll be further evident in time that the temporary reprieve has a preserving purpose for the relationship. By stepping back from the situation and not engaging in conflict, you’ve essentially frozen your relationship and have allowed it to continue when your Lyme partner is feeling better with the great, amicable nature you left off at.
Final Advice for Lyme deficient partner
And of course, while the above is a great guide for handling such a situation, do be a human being and use your own discretion; lead with the compassion and love you have for your Lyme afflicted partner for judging when the time is right to do what is right.
Perspective for the Lyme afflicted partner
For the partner with chronic Lyme disease, you must understand how your disease is affecting your partner. Know that while, yes, there is still much mystery to your condition, let that mystery be the knowledge you give to your partner. As the enigmas of the relationship are solved, further share that information with your partner and keep them in the know. This may be the first relationship you both are in of such challenging circumstances so getting stuff right the first time may not always happen. It’s important to remember that because you have chronic Lyme, your partner is at a disadvantage when it comes to being in the know about your condition.
Your condition is the black hole, the unavoidable dominant force in the relationship, so it’s easy for both of you to fall back to its attention, but easier for you to be pulled in further. So long as chronic Lyme is present, you two will always be tugged by its gravity, but never get so close to its event horizon that your effort and commitment for the relationship can no longer be felt by your partner. Once you’ve come to terms with your condition, it may feel easier to hide yourself from the world and the people you love, but leaving your partner out in the cold is just that.
Adaptation for the Lyme afflicted partner
Adaptation for you is always making the effort to be there for them even at your worst, and if you can’t be somewhere in a physical presence, make your words do what your body once could. Let your sincerest words be the comforting arms. Inform your partner, within reason, about your condition, how you’re feeling, and what you intend to do to heal. Let them know you want them to be a part of your fight.
When you make the effort to acknowledge and communicate with your partner at your worst, you give them the vital chance they need to realize the present debilitation and struggle you’re enduring. And just as important, it becomes clear to them that you genuinely care not just for them, but the relationship as well, and this could be the truth and answer they so desperately need in their times of doubt. Your partner will accept your weakened state and give you the alone time you need, if you request it, to recuperate mentally and physically. It’s absolutely important that even if your Lyme deficient partner grants you the isolation you’ve requested, that you do not leave them out in the dark. It’s your job to reach out to them in a reasonable time frame and let them know how you’re feeling, or when you feel better, because you’ve made the special request to be alone - not your partner.
Final Advice for the Lyme afflicted partner
And while it's incredibly important for you to share how Lyme is affecting you, it's just as important that you probe your partner's emotions as well. Understand how your partner is feeling, know the effect your condition is having on them, and let them contribute and share ways to improve and build upon the unique relationship.
The reality of the situation
While love is the consistent factor or seed at the core of a relationship, how that relationship grows from that love is different for every couple. Troubles and life's worries have always, and will continue to, test the bond between two people in love, and when chronic Lyme enters a relationship, it is no exception. As a couple, you're there for each other through thick and thin, and your greatest asset in getting through the worst is problem solving. The love you two have is the calculator to the greatest infinite equation you two will ever know together - your relationship. Solving it will forever be a lifelong, exclusive, and mutual endeavor that which no other persons can assist or partake in. And sometimes when your calculator isn't available, or overshadowed by the friction of a relationship, and the equation becomes too difficult and confusing, you'll need to use your brain to adapt and evolve. Solve the relationship.