A Changing Identity

changing identityThis morning I’m supposed to be attending a caregiver workshop. The focus of this three-week class is called “relationships.” Last week I didn’t go because Ken took a fall right before it was time to leave. He knocked over an end table and everything on it – including a lamp, spilled coffee all over the wall, and bruised himself. All of this because he just tried to get up from the sofa to go to the bathroom.

I saw it happen. His knees buckled, he lost his balance, and then he toppled over. This fall we didn’t laugh about. This time we screamed. I was really scared he had hurt himself. But his guardian angel must have caught him because other than being humiliated because he caused another mess, he was fine.

I grumbled while I cleaned up the catastrophe, then I felt ashamed of myself. He had only been trying to walk for godsakes!  And here I was cranking about having to wash a little spilled coffee off the wall. What kind of person am I?

Even after I cleaned up the mess, I still had time to get to the caregiver meeting, but I couldn’t THINK of the idea. Sitting in a room with a dozen  people learning about changing relationships was not what I needed at the time. So I sat in a chair all day and pouted.

But what did I need?

I’ll tell you. I need this whole thing to STOP. I want my sweet, loving husband back. I want the man who used to surprise me with tender little gifts from time to time–just because he was thinking about me. I want the man who always put me first, not matter what. I want the man who supported me in everything I wanted to do. I want the man who used to travel with me, exploring the world together. I want the man who ran to the flower shop to buy me a corsage when he heard me sing a solo in church for the first time.

What I don’t want is to face the fact I am watching this man fade away a little more each day. I want to shout: “IT’S NOT FAIR!”

Today is the second class of this workshop, but during the week a good friend called and invited me to go shopping with her. The last time we were together, we had a blast. Our friendship goes back over 20 years. We have daughters the same age; we went to college at the same time; we got divorced within a year of each other; and we helped each other recover from all the bumps and bruises life has to dish out. Having time with Jackie is special because she has a job which requires her to travel a good part of the year, and she’s not around all of the time. Needless to say, I decided to spend my morning with her instead of attending the class.

But is a good time with a valued friend the reason I blew off this class for the second time?

Well, it’s part of it. I get strength and positive energy from my friends. I love laughing with them and talking with them. So yes, it is part of the reason. The other part of the story, though, is I know in my head that I am a dyed-in-the-wool caretaker because of how I spend my days. But my heart can’t face it. I haven’t come to a place where I want to accept my husband is growing weaker and fading away–even though I see it with my eyes everyday. To publicly admit I am now a caretaker for t he man I love is too hard. I’m not ready. I’m too little! I want to suck  my thumb and cuddle in a corner with my security blanket.

I tell myself there will be another class at another time. I will sign up, but God only knows if I will attend. I tell myself maybe I’ll be ready by then, Maybe I’ll be ready to accept this new status in my relationship with Ken. Right now attending such a class signals devastating defeat and loss. MS has crippled Ken, but it also has morphed me from a loving wife to a loving caretaker. Attending this class solidifies it, and I’m not ready to face it.

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