Insights: The Fragilities of Relationships

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Waking up this morning, I took a deep breath and realized I was starting to come back to earth. 

Last week I had back surgery. The surgery itself went very well, as well as you could expect for having back surgery. 

My first day home I was feeling good and on my way to recovery. Two days later I was in the emergency room with my body shutting down due to dehydration.

I am not sure how to describe my experience. 

I lay there, my mind and body focused on my labored breath, appreciative that my daughter was next to me giving me comfort as the busyness and noise of the machines and nursing staff kept me alert and unable to rest.  

On either side of me were two elderly people who were in their last stages of life. Even though I was in my own state of emergency, I had seven hours of watching the process of end of life. 

This left me with so many thoughts and feelings—mainly the fragilities of our life, of our relationships. 

While recovering, I realized how sensitive our bodies are, how it works on such subtleties as how much water we drink, what we eat, and who (and what) we have in our lives.   

I had a second set back with what my doctor called an angry nerve. It only takes a small shift in something in our body for it to not work properly and yet how often do we abuse and neglect not just our bodies, but also our relationships. 

It is difficult to live without a healthy body, and healthy relationships. 

A week out from surgery, I am slowly starting to come back to be grounded in the world with day-to-day activities, but with a reminder to appreciate what is important. 

Life can truly have its challenges, its ups and downs, its losses and pains.  Yet as we all have heard, it is not what happens in life, but rather our attitude towards what happens to us. 

I know I am repeating myself, yet I do not think you can hear this enough: it all comes down to your relationships. 

Relationships can also bring us grief. People can disappoint us, leave, become sick or die; nevertheless the time spent with a good relationship will stay with us. 

I believe without our relationships that our purpose and our health are all impacted. 

Slowing down, really being present to people in our lives, is essential for good health.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day and we were commenting on how often we feel like people are looking at us but not really seeing us.  Looking is not enough, it is about feeling the presence of the other person, truly seeing them for who they are. 

When I see people, I like to experience just being in their presence. I like to be their mirror, reflecting back who they are, their good, their pains, their joys. 

I let people be who they are, and how they decide to be with me will determine if they are to be part of my life. 

This allows my energy to go towards people who can mirror me, and who can be there when life brings it challenges.

This was shown to me once again as I was surrounded by my friends through this week. As I think back, it is not the visit to the ER or the surgery, but the support and love I received during this time. This is because I have chosen to feed the relationships in my life and it is times like these that I receive more than I gave. I feel very blessed. 

When life is difficult, sometimes it is only the friendships that we have to hold on to, so never take relationships for granted because there is no guarantee for tomorrow. 

I will leave you with a quote from The Minds Journal: “When you see something beautiful in someone, tell them. It may take a second to say, but for them it could last a life time.” 

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].


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