I was asked a question the other day, that will guide my blog today. The question was: How do I separate between being wife and caregiver?
I thought on this a little everyday since being asked, by another fellow caregiver; hoping I would conjure up a nice little how to recipe. However, here's the truth; I don't separate.
Truth is, one of the reasons I cringe when people tell me I'm selfless or amazing for doing what I do for Steve, is because I don't do any of it because I'm some angel; I do it because I love him. So being his wife, is why I'm his caregiver; I literally can't separate it.
I wouldn't be able to power through some of our days taking care of him, if love didn't fuel the journey; and if I tried to separate the two, it wouldn't serve us well. Obviously, I find this method works for the us the vast majority of times; with of course the always exceptions to the rule. For example, the caregiver in me craves to have Steve clean, meaning getting rid of his cradle cap and dead skin on his hands; but the wife in me feels how much it hurts Steve, so I am easily convinced not to do so.
In fact, I have such a hard time with separating things with Steve, that I sometimes no longer can separate what's his emotions vs. mine. When he's anxious, instantly I'm anxious. One of the lessons that have recently become very clear to me, in such a way that it's staring at me every time I look in the mirror. For more time than I want to admit when Steve would feel anxious, I would rush him through the process. In a very, I am in control here, kind of way. I would say things like, "Okay babe, come on you have to calm down to tell me how I can help you..." or the humiliating moments of me saying things like, "Oh my God, stop and just get it together." When really all Steve ever needed/needs is me to sit with him, feel that anxiety with him, and breathe through it together with him.
Knowing what to do and doing are two different things entirely, however I find it a little easier every anxiety episode to learn to sit with him more. Because the truth is, being so connected to him, IS why he's still here. Sure to some who may not fully understand the situation, that may sound dogmatic or ego driven; but it's simply fact. Steve NEEDS me to survive this, he NEEDS there to be no lines drawn between that's his or mine, or husband/patient. He needs me to feel his needs in the other room so strongly sometimes I think they are my own, he needs me to blur the line of wife and caregiver that I am his care wife.
In fact, that's what I should call it now. Because there is no separation. I know that may not help others, who desperately seek some separation; but maybe it will. Maybe, finding the positive in whatever your situation is, is all you need? I don't know, but I know honestly I couldn't separate the two now even if I wanted to, because when you find what works, My God, you cling to it for dear life.
The ol' line I used to end my drug and alcohol classes with was, "It works if you work it." Of course, that situation "IT" working is the steps, but "IT" can be whatever situation you are in. Truly, if you take what you have, and put your heart into it, YOU CAN make IT work. :)