Realizing My Worth in Relationships

Brittany Foster avatar

by Brittany Foster |

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relationships, self-esteem

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One thing I have learned in my 27 years is that relationships aren’t always built to last. Some people have come into my life for a few years or a few months, and others have been in my life forever and continue to be there. The truth is that relationships change. People change. That’s part of life. Relationships grow apart or become stronger.

Maintaining relationships is difficult. Maintaining relationships while managing pulmonary hypertension is even more difficult. Sometimes when people come in and out of my life, it can leave me feeling left out. I begin to question my worth. On many occasions, I have wondered, “What’s wrong with me?” I ponder what I actually bring to relationships. Negative headspace can lead me down the path to depression and isolation. To pull myself out of it, I think of all the qualities that make me valuable to any relationship.

These include:

I am supportive. I know what it’s like to feel unsupported and misunderstood. I also know how drastically my day can change when I feel supported. I’m not Superwoman, and I wouldn’t be able to carry a friend up the stairs if they fell, but I can — and would — talk them through the hurt and pain. Support goes beyond just words of encouragement. I know the difference between needing words and needing someone’s presence.

I can sympathize and empathize. In my experience, relationships begin to fail when sympathy is lacking. Friends have stopped talking to me completely when I went through a difficult time. I always made excuses and thought, “Maybe they just don’t get it.” But the truth is that no one needs to actually “get it” to sympathize with someone and show compassion. In my relationships, I can sympathize and empathize with a wide range of physical and emotional feelings.

I choose kindness. In friendships and my relationships with my boyfriend and my family, I try to always choose kindness. I know the power that words have to ruin my day, and I would never wish that for anyone. When a lot of negativity is around, it prevents any type of healing from happening. One kind gesture can turn someone’s day around.

I am inclusive. I have had moments in my life when I felt excluded. I was the girl who often wasn’t invited places. It’s a terrible feeling. Exclusion does more damage than many realize, especially if someone already feels vulnerable. Because of this, I will always be inclusive.

I provide comic relief. If someone is having a rough day, they know they can come to me for comic relief. That might include an inappropriate meme, a sarcastic sense of humor, or the sending of selfies in a “who can look the ugliest” competition. Although I don’t always find humor in my own difficulties, I can help those who are close to me find laughter and light in what they are going through.

I love with my entire heart. If chronic illness has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short for half-hearted relationships. I choose to love those who are in my life and part of my support system with my entire heart. I would do anything for them. They are the ones I would put my worries and troubles aside for. Love is something that should be felt and given fully.

It’s easy to get caught up feeling that I am a burden in relationships or frustrated when it seems I’m losing friendships due to my illness. When people leave my life, it’s hard to see the values I possess that make me a great person to be around. What I need to remember is that my disease does not cause me to lose relationships. If anything, having chronic illness has given me values that I bring to my friendships, partnership, and family relationships. It has taught me what’s really important and who truly matters.



Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Kathleen Sheffer avatar

Kathleen Sheffer

Brittany, I see you embody each of these qualities on a daily basis. I relate to being inclusive as a result of feeling excluded myself, and I like to think I provide chronic relief (though it turns out, not everyone enjoys this coping mechanism). You are exactly right that chronic illness crystallizes our priorities and helps us love more fully today because tomorrow isn't guaranteed.

Brittany Foster avatar

Brittany Foster

Thank you Kathleen! Just seeing this comment now for some reason! But it definitely has helped me appreciate the qualities in myself that I find valuable and I now look at a lot through a different lens.

Jen C avatar

Jen C

Great article!

I’m married but relationships with others , especially since the PH diagnosis in 2005, has definitely been crazy as well as challenging!

You definitely describing many of the positives I’ve seem in you all the time! You’re so young but I learn from you all the time!

I agree that chronic illnesses helps yo to love fully , we never know what tomorrow may bring!

I’ve felt excluded so often and even with family , but I’m going to try and change my thinking on that as well !

Kathleen, I’m sure living with a chronic illness at such a young age , you’ve also experienced many ups and downs in relationships! I learn so much from you both and you’re both so inspiring!

Thanks for all you both do and for just being yourselves!

Brittany Foster avatar

Brittany Foster

Thank you so much for reading and thank you for your encouraging words and your vulnerability, Jen! It means a lot to me.

Dena avatar


Have you had family members who no longer relate to you - Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins - who have refused to see you for years?

Have you had to stop being in relationship with any family members because of your illness?

Brittany Foster avatar

Brittany Foster

Hi Dena,
Fortunately my family has always stuck around even though sometimes they don't always understand everything I go through. I am grateful that I have found good support. But I have lost some great friends over illness and have lost bits and pieces of myself that made me feel less values and pretty worthless. I'm lucky that my family is a strong support system for me and I know others aren't as lucky. I truly feel for them. That must be terrible.


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