It’s RA Blog Week! Today’s prompt is: Partners – Where would we be without our partners? They are often not just partners but caregivers. Tell your partners’ story.
This is a tricky post for me for some reason. I can’t quite grasp why. I mean, I’m always straightforward about how being sick can complicate relationships. Hell, I’m a sex educator. This shouldn’t be so hard!
I think part of it is that relationships are not only about love but about how we interact with each other around hard things. While I appreciate T handling my poor communication around pain or me hiding my pain, I try to not fawn over him. There’s ableism in over-appreciating our partners, as though we accept the outward notion that we aren’t fit for relationships.
T is a patient, too. As comfortable as I feel talking about my illnesses, I don’t know that it’s fair to talk about other people’s without really consulting them.
And T doesn’t always (read: ever) like to talk about himself.
Even after being together for ten years (as of last week – go us!), we’re still figuring out how to handle each other’s health. I’m sure part of it is that our illnesses are incredibly unpredictable. I mean, I don’t know what my 16+ diagnoses will do from day to day and struggle with that. Why wouldn’t T?
Sometimes we both have to put aside our patient needs to help each other. It’s not easy, especially for T. Depression and anxiety aren’t things we can place aside as easily as, say, some of my physical issues. That said, sometimes my physical needs are more immediate – like the time I fell, broke two toes, and had to get stitches in my foot. Poor T was asleep and I said I needed him from the bathroom, while I was trying to contain the bleeding on the bathroom floor.
I like to think that dealing with our health crud together, though, makes us stronger.
We always have another person to talk to who will understand (or at least try to) and give emotional support.
There’s always someone to go with you to urgent care.
When one of us is struggling, the other can make a boatload of mac n cheese or cake.
Most of all, even when we can’t help each other, we can hold each other and cry. As someone who grew up crying alone while hiding in closets or under beds, having someone to hold me while I cry is something I’ve never really had before.
Personalizing my arthritis as Arthur has really helped me realize the value in T and I viewing ourselves as a partnership fighting health crud. It becomes a lot less likely to wrongly find blame in each other over something not getting done if we see Arthur as the villain.