Soulmates Unselfishly Connect

What is a soulmate?

Recently, a United States representative was accused of sexually harassing one of his female staffers after sending her a letter stating he believed they were “soulmates.” Apparently, she did not agree.

Many of us understand that soulmates are individuals with a deep connection toward each other. Words alone are insufficient to express the bond between soulmates. For those who have a soulmate, the ability to give, and receive, unconditional love is instinctive and omnipresent.

We may or may not have the good fortune, in our lifetimes, to find our own soulmates. But we recognize that relationship when we are in it.

True soulmates exhibit unselfish, limitless love and respect for one another. That can be challenging, especially during the worst of times — which is why it is difficult to maintain a lifelong relationship, even with a soulmate.

Making Sickness Easier

In my book, The Painful Truth, I comment that it can be a rare gift to share and triumph over difficult times with another person. I treated patients who had to walk alone in their journey with pain, and I worried the most about their outcome. Traveling their road alone would be far more difficult, because an empathetic companionship has a way of facilitating the healing process.

The day-to-day logistics of managing pain –finding a doctor with the courage to treat pain, dealing with the stigma of medications, getting prescriptions filled, processing negative emotions, and keeping engaged in one’s own health care — are a little bit easier when a caring person is willing, and able, to be present.

In his book, A Sick Prejudice, author Joseph H. McNolty writes about how challenging it is for many of us to support loved ones in the face of serious illness. He says humans may have evolved to avoid sick members of the tribe to maximize their chance of survival. McNolty experienced the loss of friends while his wife was terminally ill, and he sometimes even found himself treating his wife differently. “Something lurks deep within us, urging us to avoid someone seriously ill,” he explains. But recognizing our bias, he believes, is a step toward overcoming it.

Chronic pain is a thief that steals a person’s joy and can change lives forever. When a loved one chooses to stand by during the illness, it means they are confronting the same intruder. A soulmate overcomes the prejudice against sickness at the risk of experiencing bottomless grief and loss.

As McNolty points out, selflessness does not come naturally for many people. However, sharing adversity can sometimes have surprising, and even humorous, results.

Marsha and John: An Example of Soulmates

That was the case when my patients, Marsha and John, hesitantly admitted to each other that they had spinal cord stimulators implanted in their bodies. Their courage paid off. Knowing that the other had the same device took away the embarrassment for both of them. Marsha felt less self conscious with him about her appearance, and she understood that John could still find her attractive. John and Marsha were beautifully suited to each other.

John acknowledged to me that Marsha was his soulmate. She felt the same connection to him. As soulmates, John and Marsha were able to normalize the abnormal and face the challenges in their lives together.

Science tells us that a good relationship can save your life. It doesn’t need to be a romantic relationship, either. A close relationship with a sibling, parent, child, friend, or any caring person will serve the purpose.

People in supportive relationships increase the odds of surviving a serious illness by 50%. On the other hand, people without a strong social relationship experience a health risk comparable to smoking, obesity, or high blood pressure. So whether or not you have pain, the quality and longevity of your life may be enhanced if you’re fortunate enough to find a soulmate to accompany you on your life’s journey.

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