Why my husband with hemophilia can be hard on himself
Even when we make mistakes, it's vital to practice self-compassion
My husband, Jared, is a diligent worker and constant high achiever. An honor student in school, he has since excelled in various fields. From running a business to trying his hand at voice acting and cooking, he’s a jack of all trades in the most complete form of the saying: “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
Despite dealing with hemophilia and epilepsy, he manages a demanding job with superiors who are based overseas. And yet, he still manages to find time for his culinary pursuits, fatherly responsibilities, and other hobbies once work is through.
However, there’s another side to Jared: He can be tough on himself, a behavior rooted in early responsibilities and the need to compensate for what he sees as shortcomings.
The reason for Jared’s high expectations
Jared had to grow up fast due to his chronic illnesses. While his peers indulged in typical teenage recklessness, he had to learn early on to accept his limitations and be responsible. Having severe hemophilia meant he couldn’t afford to make mistakes that could lead to dangerous injuries. It was a lot for a kid to handle, but he did it to keep himself safe.
The constant pressure to keep up with his friends pushed him to find creative ways to experience the fun stuff without risking his health. This wasn’t always easy, but he kept challenging himself. His conditions made him feel limited, so he promised to give his best in everything he did.
However, this commitment to excelling sometimes leads him to overcompensate. Overachieving becomes his way of coping, trying to make up for feeling “less” than others because of his health conditions. In Jared’s pursuit of proving himself, he can end up being too hard on himself for even the smallest mistakes.
Jared’s early life was full of tough battles that most people don’t face until much later. He survived major bleeds and a life-threatening case of sepsis. Hospital stays that lasted for several months on end were his childhood reality.
Having been through such intense experiences, it’s no wonder he finds it hard to accept even the tiniest mistakes. Compared with what he’s been through, typical inconveniences appear minor, so he has a hard time accepting that they still matter.
When Jared starts overthinking his errors or getting angry about the tiniest slip-up, I remind him to practice self-compassion. This means being kind to himself, staying mindful, and understanding that it’s OK not to be perfect.
Jared knows that everyone has flaws, but accepting his own imperfections is a challenge. The urge to “fix himself” often gets in the way of accepting reality, sitting with the discomfort of making a mistake, and moving forward with self-acceptance.
Embracing imperfections can be a strength
Jared is driven to be the best father possible to our young daughter. He’s aware that she looks up to him and he wants to be a good example for her.
Now nearly 5 years old, her personality is beginning to show. Much like her father, she’s a budding perfectionist who loves order. She also struggles with making mistakes.
In fact, as I write this, I hear her lamenting that her S’s aren’t perfect. Meanwhile, Jared is telling her that making mistakes is OK, because these are inevitable when one practices. And practice, in turn, will help her learn.
I’m proud of Jared for sharing this message. I hope he keeps showing us how turning imperfections into strengths can be as simple as being his strong and resilient self. After all, he’s survived every tough knock from life with chronic illness, and he continues to embrace life to the fullest.
Note: Hemophilia News Today 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 another 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 Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.