Homie, Lover, Caregiver?
Yesterday I got up got dressed, put on make up , and did my hair for the 1st time in over a week. As I was getting ready recounting the fact that my New Year began with a trip to the emergency Room I realized something. You see I was getting dressed to go on a date with my boyfriend to say thank you for how well hes taking care of me while I've been sick. Dating someone with a chronic illness is not the easiest thing. When you hear the term care giver you often think of adult children taking care of elderly parents, or parents taking care of young children , or even in some unique situations Foster families etc... but what happens when you become the care giver in an intimate relationship? When my boyfriend and I met I had a small waist, big smile, and the energy of a fireball. Things were great for quite a while and while I told him that I suffered from chronic illnesses it never really affected anything that we Wanted to do together. It wasn't until my 1st bad flare that he realized what my illness really Meant for us. To my friends I dubbed him #HomieBae , To my family he was the most solid man that I have had the joy of dealing with, and for me he became a true friend and partner and for the 1st time I could see myself building a lasting future with someone since my divorce. Now I know relationships are lots of up's and Downs but this past year not only found me more progressive in my disease process than ever but also questioning all of the things that I wanted for my life including being married and having children. The thought of asking someone to commit to hospital visits, medications, side effects, mood swings and so much more for the rest of their lives and then having the audacity to ask them to add into that a child which is a lifelong commitment had me feeling extremely selfish and undeserving. But as I looked myself in the mirror yesterday I couldn't help but smile at the progress we've made together both through tough times And communication issues. Putting on my make up I recalled him sitting in that chair next to my hospital bed falling asleep and knowing that I had my best friend with me so I would be OK. But I constantly have to ask myself is it fair of me to ask him to be not just my friend, not just my lover, but also my care giver. Is it fair to ask him to adjust his Lifestyle, as well as his own dreams because of the limitations that my diagnosis will Present? I find myself asking can you still find me attractive when my condition makes me put on weight and I'm no longer that size 3? I ask myself is it realistic for him to want to be tied down to someone with so much uncertainty in the future? Is it right to ask him to compromise what homes we choose because of Mobility issues, what jobs we take because of my mounting medical bills, what trips we go on because I'll spend so much of them sleeping, and even what friends we keep because they just don't understand what we go through? When he approached me in that bar on his birthday he couldn't have imagined that the girl in the red dress would force him to evaluate his manhood in so many ways and for that I wonder if I should ever say, I'm sorry? While he provides me with everything I need including his love and affection I look at him tired after a day of overtime knowing that he's doing the best he can and understanding that he still feels like they're so much more he has to do and I realize that he feels that way because he feels like he has to take care of me. But am I taking care of him? We talk about marriage and He says hes not ready and my friends can't understand and my family doesn't believe it but he says it because to him marrying me means being fully responsible for someone who may be 100% reliant on him and he fears he just doesn't have what it takes to do it all which is a legitimate fear one I've often shared because it's too much for me even at times and I am the one who ultimately has no choice. Relationships are give-and-take but am I taking more than I'm giving? Lacing up my heels which are torture to be in with my spasming back and swollen knee joints I realized that my brief pain is worth it just to see his smile when I walk down the stairs because he's appreciative of my effort to look good for him for our night out. He tells me I don't have to and should change into more comfortable shoes because he loves me no matter what I'm wearing but part of me feels like I must do this to give him at least one night of normalcy. I want to give him at least 1 night to be carefree and show off like someone his age should be able to. After a great night out I know he's expecting a nightcap lol and while mentally and physically I'm exhausted again I just want to give him a reminder of why he fell for me in the 1st place so I take a deep breath and mentally prepare my body because I know I'll enjoy it and try to clear my mind of all of the guilt that I feel for not making our one night out his everyday life. It's funny because I think back on all the years of heartbreak and failed relationships where my health never even came into play and sometimes I find myself angry that I finally get the love that I've always wanted and now we have this huge stumbling block. I get frustrated that every conversation starts with how are you feeling And I'm reminded that my answer to that question will dictate his every action going forward that day. He is not a talker, or overly emotional So he doesn't get into how all of This affects him unless I ask to which he often just replies it's hard but we're good . He gives me a reassuring smile but I can see the Tiredness in his eyes and I pray that the love that I have for him shows so that 1 day he doesn't tire of us. Being my friend comes easy to him, Being my lover he treats like gift, but being my care giver that was a choice, a choice he makes everyday without complaint so I went to bed last night both thanking God and thanking him for not applying for the job of care giver but doing it so well that I could never imagine him not filling the role. Chronic illness is tough, it comes with both mental and physical hurdles but it's the unsung hero called caregiver that helps you through it. So to anyone reading this who is going through it as the one diagnosed remember to thank those that choose you inspite of it all and those who take on the additional role in the relationship as caregiver I salute you.
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