Stephanie’s Adventures in Singledom: The Ice Bucket Challenge Vs. Communicating in Relationships

BY STEPHANIE DOLCE

If anyone can compare the Ice Bucket Challenge to lack of communicating in relationships, it is I.

My neighbor died roughly fifteen years ago from ALS. And since we are NOT teaching people about the disease, we are ONLY focusing on the ice bucket, I will give you a quick lesson as to what ALS exactly is. Like I was saying, my neighbor died from ALS fifteen years ago. He was a vibrant man who I would see either gardening, fixing up the lawn, or traveling all around the world with his wife every year. Sadly that slowly started to change.

What ALS does is it causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body due to the degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons. Individuals affected by the disorder may ultimately lose the ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement, although bladder and bowel function and the muscles responsible for eye movement are usually spared until the final stages of the disease. About 75% of people contracting the disease experience “limb onset.”

The first symptoms are in the arms or legs. Patients with the leg onset form may experience awkwardness when walking or running or notice that they are tripping or stumbling, often with a “dropped foot” which drags gently along the ground, which is what my neighbor experienced.

Over time, patients experience increasing difficulty moving, swallowing and speaking or forming words. Although the order and rate of symptoms varies from person to person, eventually most patients are not able to walk or use their hands and arms. They also lose the ability to speak and swallow food, whilst most end up on a portable ventilator, called a BiPAP.

I feel like what my neighbor went through is not even being talked about. All we are focusing on are the celebrities doing the ice bucket and everyone on Facebook posting a video of water being thrown on their head. It’s more about the “likes” then the disease.

Charities don’t survive without funding, I’m not against this charity and I think it’s a good thing for awareness I just think the whole concept is misplaced. Yes, it probably was fun to dumb water on your head but having ALS isn’t fun. That’s my point.

Remember, there’s a lot of organizations out there that take advantage of people as the money goes straight to their pockets, I’m not saying that is what this charity does, I am simply pointing it out.

But to get back to talking about relationships and dating, see what happens when you don’t TALK about things and COMMUNICATE? You get misleading information or you only are basing your information on what you are seeing NOT hearing.

Communicating is not only important in our everyday relationships, it is important for every business or charity to function. People nowadays don’t ASK questions or research things, as they did prior to social media. How many times did we see on the news or on social media “Ice Bucket Challenge” before we even knew what the hell they were actually talking about? No one communicated what it was actually for and how it was actually going to help. All we saw were celebrities, athletes, your friends and probably your family nominating three people and then pouring ice cold water on their heads.

I will admit, at first I thought it was funny seeing all these people pour icy water on their heads.

Then after researching what it was for since the news media happened to leave that part out of the conversation, I was upset at why people were looking like they were having a blast at the expense of those who have to suffer everyday with the disease. Minus the fact that most people who have chosen the ice bucket are not donating, which isn’t that the point of helping a charity? Again, charities are a business, they rely on funding.

Communicating is critical in every aspect of life. If you refuse to communicate what you are showing is that you aren’t respecting yourself and the people or person with whom you refuse to talk too. Also not being able to validate your feelings is just as abusive as using words to put you down or humiliate you.

Some men, (I know a few) decide that the way to avoid conflict and also having to confront their feelings, is to refuse to participate in any conversation with you; period. This then will lead you to just either throwing your hands up in the air and give them the silent treatment in return, or trying to find ways to break through them and the ice, if you will.

Trust me when I say that, it’s going to take more than an bucket of icy water, to literally break the ice with someone with whom you care about when they just shut down totally. The best way to do this is to disengage. When we disengage, we set aside differences temporarily, while we remain willing to address them at a later time. It involves taking time to reflect, reduce the tension, and let our emotions settle. It’s letting him be the one to approach you instead of us women trapping him into a corner asking, “Are you ready to talk yet?”

When we let the men inquire about the situation when they are good and ready by asking questions and slowly feeling their way through it, we allow them to focus on the task rather than the disagreement. After they inquire, we women need to listen carefully, giving him our complete attention.

I know women are going to freak out what I say next but, if you really love the guy who is not communicating with you at the moment, trust me, it won’t kill you to start off the conversation by saying, “”I’m so sorry if I’ve done or said something to make you feel the way you did.” Sometimes, apologizing actually starts breaking the ice. As does throwing in some humor or mentioning something your guy/girl enjoys. You need to show him/her that you value their friendship, love, and/or support.

Remember, listening is one of the most important aspects of effective communication. It’s not just waiting for your turn to talk, it’s actually hearing what someone is saying so you can respond in a calm matter.

Listening is also of importance because it may not be what was SAID or what we DID that caused the person to back off and present the silent treatment, but it is how this person interprets the information, processes it and truly responds to it that caused the conflict in the first place. Sometimes sadly, people THINK you may have meant something by how you worded it or what your body language said, when you totally implied something else. That is why communicating is so important.

Communication is the lifeline of any relationship. When you stop communicating, you start losing your valuable relationship.

So just as the people at the charity ALS, had a lack of communicating with the public as to what the whole ice bucket challenge was about and never actually educating people as to what the disease is, that may hurt them in the end. Knowledge may be power, but communication is the key. The secret to keeping the love alive is to unselfishly put the other person before yourself and communicate with that person in a positive and open manner. Trust me, they are sitting there waiting for you to do just that.