When others take care of us, it can be either uncomfortable or transformational for all concerned. When I was experiencing severe rheumatoid arthritis, my husband took over everything. Our marriage has always been a partnership. So, he cooked, cleaned house, and helped me get from one place to another, even if that was from my chair to the bathroom. My feet were swollen for over thirteen years and felt like they were on fire. But I thought that as long as I could still walk, no matter how painful and slow that might be, I wasn’t using a wheelchair or anything else to get around. Looking back, I think I spent the entire time I was actively ill in disbelief that I was sick at all. And now it seems like a bad dream.
He would carry everything
When I was unable to walk around the grocery store, he would run all over, gathering our supplies, bringing them back to the cart that I hung onto for dear life. And when it seemed like I wouldn’t survive my out-of-control RA, I decided to become a medical cannabis patient. Then the real work began.
Growing the Garden
We ran a business during this time, so much of our time was spent there. We had begun growing vegetables hydroponically in the house a couple of years earlier, so we were already in gardening mode. But we switched gears and he began growing cannabis. As if he needed something else to do, what with everything he did for me.
I was unable to help for the first couple of years. He had grown cannabis in his youth and loved it so at least his additional responsibilities were fun for him. I’m in clinical remission now, and I’m my own grower now, but we still tend the garden together.
When Others Take Care
But when others take care of you, if you’re not accustomed to such attention, it can be a little unnerving. I’m used to my husband doing things for me, so I appreciated everything he did. But I felt extraordinarily guilty at the same time. And he never complained, not once in all those years.
He felt helpless, you see, to fix what what happening to me. Taking care of the things I couldn’t do anymore was the only way he could help me. I couldn’t stand for very long, so cooking was tough. I could do some of it, but sooner than later, I would have to sit down, exhausted. He would then take over, eventually cooking the meals himself. My hands were so swollen and hurt so much that chopping anything was impossible, so taking over meal preparation was a blessing.
And Then I Got Better
An interesting thing happened when I got better. As I began doing more and more for myself, my husband had a difficult time letting go and trusting that I would be okay. Understandable really, given how many times I fell when I was ill. We had a motorcycle shop and one time he found me under some tires that had fallen on me. Another time it was a bookcase with service manuals. I’d get tangled up and down I’d go, evidently taking all sorts of things with me. So I understand his reluctance to see me go out on my own.
It’s also taken a while for us to share housekeeping chores. He tends to jump right in before I’m ready to do anything. So, we’re learning a new rhythm.
Giving up one’s control is such an odd feeling. Taking it back is equally odd, when others really aren’t prepared for it, regardless of how happy they are that you’re well. But I appreciate the connection we have and after more than thirty-six years together, we couldn’t be closer.
It’s about surrender, really. Allowing another to help when you have no other choice. Surrender to the moment, letting grace lead the way. A vulnerable space is created, one that can be filled with the peace another’s commitment can bring. An unbreakable partnership results, and one I wouldn’t trade for anything.