WANTED: BF [boyfriend] (or GF) not a Caregiver: Jax & I are working hard on breaking that “caregiver cycle”. It’s too tragic a topic for me to bother reading a book abut it right now. Maybe once I’m further through it I’ll see what books are out there. Jax & I are doing well since our last therapy session. He’s been taking more time for himself & his friends (which he never allowed himself to do before). I am so happy for him. I’ve promised myself to NEVER give him a hard time for going out with his friends (to bars, games, stripper bars, or whatever he wants). [He insists he doesn’t want to go to a strip club but I’ve insisted it’s fine if he does – In fact, I think he and I have gone together in the past]. The reality is He gave me 3 years of his life (even though I never asked or meant for him to do that).
The point is I want him to take back his own life. I want him to go out and get drunk (as long as he doesn’t drive). The more he takes back his own life – the happier WE have become. I don’t want him to be a martyr. Looking back he now sees that he should have spent more time with friends… but he couldn’t… he was too worried and was always concerned he’d have to take me to hospital. Now I am past that urgent phase. The hardest part is charting this new path instantaneously. Meaning, these past few weeks he’ll just make plans and go with no advance warning. For example, if i’m going to see a friend on Wednesday night – I’ll mention it to him a few days ahead. But since he’s not used to having plans, he’ll send a text Friday night after work that says “going out with the guys right now… see you l8r”. Then he’ll be out all night. The tough thing is that I can’t get upset because he was so gracious to me with his time when I really needed it during my hospital scares.
HOW DID I BREAK THE CAREGIVER CYCLE: I just want Jax to be happy and I don’t want him to be forced into being an around the clock caregiver. We’re starting to get a much better balance. He ends up being a caregiver about 10 minutes a day when he’s making sure I’ve taken my meds and such. Initially, when i first noticed the caregiver issue was so vast, I made a list of the things I needed to do to give him a break.
First, I became … (Read on for the list of things I’ve done to break this cycle)–>CLICK HEREFirst, I became responsible for taking my own meds. Sounds over-simple but it showed him that I wanted to be a part of my recovery and that it wasn’t all on his back. Also, I found out later that it was causing him a lot of extra stress to remind me and it just isn’t fair for me to put that on him. It’s my disease and my responsibility. I strongly disagree with a web-writer that stated her disease was the third partner in their relationship. I refuse to let my disease have that amount of power in my life.
Next, I made a list of the sweet things Jax did for me that an normal adult would do for themselves if they weren’t ill. I started taking back a lot of those things OR started doing the same for him. Example: he always made me tea each night. Often he would put a little snack with it. To turn the tables – I began making him tea a few nights a week w/ a little snack (it’s important to not go 180 degrees on this stuff since you’ll only make yourself more sick). Then I began planning what we’d have for dinner a few nights a week (which i NEVER was doing) and baking little treats once in awhile. In other words, I started removing the burden of our entire life being on his shoulders only – little by little. Now, it’s shared 50/50.
During all of this I continually encouraged him to go out with his friends. He needs to have his own life. I refuse to allow myself to whine about it or make him feel bad for being out. This would destroy our relationship.
Also, I never complain about small pain. I had a hypochondriac friend that made all of her ailments seem like a major international incident. It seriously drove her boyfriend away. Luckily, any ailment I’ve ever moaned about has been confirmed as a real issue so I know I’m not a hypochondriac, but to combat it at my home I do the following: If I stub my toe or hit my head I may say ouch but am clear to immediately follow it with “it’s nothing just a little bump” [said in a very calm voice]. I don’t need to send him into urgent mode unless it really is serious. Otherwise his gut is stirred up all the time and no one can take that.
I suppose Jax and I are still going through the process of breaking the caregiver cycle. It simply wasn’t sustainable. It screwed up our sex life and future plans. It’s hard to break it back… but we’re working on it. I’ll keep you posted on other tips we’ve discovered. –Sasha xoxo
PS – You can also read past posts such as: Reader Feedback on Relationships, Dramatic Bedroom Stories, Caretaker’s Note, The Caretaker is Broken, Darkness in a Relationship, and also About my life with Jax.