To paraphrase a popular Kelly Clarkson song, I truly used to be:
Miss on her own,
Miss fully grown.
Miss "Get out of my way!"
Miss "I can do it on my own."
Boy, do I miss those days!
I ordinarily don't bemoan my fate, but recently my spouse had a few moments of frustration, sadness and anger about my constant reliance upon him. More specifically, he voiced his annoyance at having to do so much for me, so many things that I used to do on my own, so many things he wished I could still just do for myself.
This led to a long, late night talk about how truly bad things are for me. I explained in great detail how chronic illness really affects me, making it so bad that this former Miss Independent needs to lean on her hubby for even the most basic things. About half way through, tears creeped into my soliloquy as I got in touch with my feelings about all my losses and the grief that goes with them.
It was a difficult conversation, but one that was needed to help my hubby grow in his acceptance of my chronic illnesses. Since the talk, I can see he has let go of more of his angry feelings about my chronic illnesses and the things they deprive him of and impose upon him as well.
Two things I marveled at during this discussion:
- How different our timetables are for developing an acceptance that chronic illness is a part of our life together for the foreseeable future.
- How my reality could really make me really depressed if I chose to constantly dwell on it.
I can really see how much harder it is for a spouse, family member or friend to accept the consequences of chronic illness. They view me through their frame of reference, which is the complete opposite of how I am physically feeling. They have to imagine how it feels to be ill and how it can limit someone while they feel fine, have little pain and are full of energy. I acknowledge that this is a tough task to accomplish, especially when you can never really know what having chronic illness is like unless you have it yourself--and I really don't wish that for anyone.
I also got in touch with how overwhelmed with sadness I become when I think about all the things I cannot do. I can see where this focus might lead me down a dark and dreary path where I could be overcome by depression. Which make me appreciate how functional it is for me to take the focus off my limitations and redirect it towards discovering what I can do. I admit this was very difficult to do initially, but with practice this coping strategy becomes easier with time.
Make no mistake: I am not living the life of my dreams. But that isn't going to stop me from figuring out how to take what I have and make it into something worth living for. I also have to remember that I need to share that with my husband, family and friends so they too can see that chronic illness isn't just about loss and sacrifice. I have to show them it's about growth, change and new directions.
Oh, and maybe finding some money in our very tight budget to hire someone to help me out around that house so my hubby doesn't always have to be my "go-to" guy. As my caregiver, he gets overburdened at times and we need to find ways to help him out too.
So no, I am no longer Miss Independent. I'm more like Miss "I Need a Little Help From My Friends" and Miss "I'm So Thankful for a Wonderful Husband Who Love Me No Matter What." That said, being more dependent is a BIG change for me, one that comes with many lessons to learn. I'm not sure why I need this in my life right now and I can only hope that in the big picture it helps me become the person I am supposed to be.