Caregiving vs. Codependency


Caregiving vs. Codependency

I’m skipping Illustration Friday this week because I cannot think of a single original inspired illustration for the word “jazz”. Pathetic, I know. Things have been really retarded here at SAJ.com lately. But maybe retarded is more appealing than brilliant anyway. Maybe I’m just lazy.

I’ve decided that my blog today will be about me deciding that I like being a care giver. Jazz pa-phazz. It doesn’t fit into my train of thought any where. I like jazz, I think. Or maybe it’s Blues I like. Yeah, I like Blues. Jazz is the one with loud horns and cymbols. I really don’t like loud horns and cymbols unless I’m wearing a polka dotted skirt and being twirled by some handsome man who knows how to lead. That would probably be the one exception.

Anyway! I decided that I like being a caregiver because today I went to Target and bought Toby’s mom a six dollar phone. It wasn’t really the phone but that’s where my story starts.

The phone has big numbers on it’s buttons and it doesn’t require any charging. It seemed the phone to least likely fluster or confuse someone who has just gotten out of a convalescent home. It was light and made by a hair dryer company. The hair dryer part is not really relevant but it did cause me to squat down and eyeball the bottom shelf (where they keep the corded phones that I guess nobody buys anymore) and deliberate for several minutes. Who wants a phone with a hair dryer logo on it? I slobbered over the pink Hello Kitty phone next to it but decided my sixty-eight-year-old mother-in-law probably wouldn’t be as keen as I was about a kiddy phone. The other choice was a mongo-complicated office phone with caller id and speaker phone and seventy different menu functions including conferencing and something about a three-way. I decided the hair dryer phone was the way to go. She’s got enough on her mind trying to figure out which pills to take at what time of day. I don’t want to send her into an anxiety attack over what button to push. Maybe her new hair dryer phone will add body and shine to her hair while she talks.

I actually was excited to go buy her a phone. A niggling little voice in my head said “Danger! Danger!” because I know better than to start giving giving giving with someone who will take take take my last drop of blood. BUT it was fun! It was like Christmas morning. Yesterday I spent three hours getting her phone line hooked up and today I got to present it all to her. She was so thankful. She hugged me and got a little teary eyed. It’s like I gave her a life line off her deserted island. It’s pretty scary being weak and sick and depressed and getting older than you realized in a tiny studio apartment with no phone or cable. I think even with my natural born eternal optimism, even I would get suicidal stuck there like she is.

But she’s doing really well. A nurse is visiting her every day. She actually washed all her dishes today (which is huge since she hasn’t done a dish since December). She was tired but she seemed really happy and positive. We talked about everything. I even came out and told her why I am afraid to get too close to her. She said she understood. Her parents were alcoholics too and she had to check on them when they got old. They weren’t binge alcoholics like she is but they did fall asleep under the influence of tranquilizers and sometimes with lit cigarettes in their hand. I think we can relate but I am taking it slow because I must always keep in the back of my mind that someday she will burn me and the more I let her depend on me the worse it will hurt when it all goes down in flames.

At the same time, also on this topic: I really like taking care of Toby. I cook him eggs for breakfast and I take them to him while he sweats under a deadline at his computer. He looks up at me like I’m an angel coming down in a beam of light, saving him from starvation. It makes me feel good to be appreciated. I always day dream that someday he’ll be at some awards show and he’ll get up there at the microphone and say something like, “I couldn’t do without the devotion of my loving wife” or something like that. Sometimes that gets me through the day when he is being particularly difficult. Not that I’m some kind of saintly wife. That is far from reality. I’m sure Toby has a whole slew of tricks to get through the day when I’m raging queen bitch wife.

I also like caring for my birds and my plants. I figure maybe it’s because I want to be a mother so bad that I’m finding other things to mother. I think it’s okay. It makes me happy. As long as I don’t turn into one of those people who only feels good when they are caring for someone and they might want that person to be sick or needy just so they can feel good. I know I know… we’ve been over this on this blog before. I must not become co-dependent. And I don’t think I am. I don’t think I even really understand the full meaning of co-depency and I’m not in a hurry to go buy bunch of books on the subject either. What I do think is that perhaps at this point in my life this is the right thing to do. As long as I take one day at a time.

*photo has nothing to do with anything.

Moving On

Moving On

Today was one of those days. A day where eleven things go wrong and then when the twelfth bad thing hits, you stop and think: Is it me? Am I the only common denominator here?

But first before I launch into all those bad things I need to note that a lot of good things happened too. Firstly, Pretentious has successfully switched me over to Moveable Type. Woo Hoo! I’m completely confused and dazzled by all the new choices. I think things are going to be a little “under construction” for a while but I am beside myself happy about all my new options. Secondly, I got my hair cut. Yay! Yay! There is no better cure for the gloomy winter blues than a fresh new hair cut. Pictures tomorrow… maybe. If it washes okay.

I think the lesson I needed to learn today was to just chill.

I spent the night at my mom’s last night because yesterday we moved all my plants to her house. I should clarify that. We didn’t move all of my plants. Toby talked me into keeping a few. The healthy ones. I admit I had a pretty wacky collection of sick plants that I was bringing back to health in my “plant hospital”. I take back some of my venom from yesterday. I could be guilty of trying to nurse some pretty ugly plants. So maybe my busy body landlady has a few reasons to be meddling. I don’t take back everything but I’m trying to move on with more compassion.

I think what really brought me around to this new point of view was my mom’s face when she had to tell me that her dog chewed up my favorite sweater. I could see real fear in her eyes. She was afraid of how I might react. She knows I was pretty upset already about my crazy landlady. I think she was afraid the sweater shredding news was going to send me over the edge. And maybe it would have… But there is nothing like a reality check when a loved one shows fear in their eyes because they are afraid you are going to completely lose it if one more thing goes wrong.

I don’t want to be like that. I love my sweater. Sure, it hurts me to have to cross it off my illustrated list of clothing items I am going to pack for my trip to Paris. It makes me mad that I took so much care to keep it clean and dry cleaned and now it’s shredded. BUT it’s a material thing! How am I ever going to grow old gracefully if I have a coronary over losing this sweater?

Besides it’s completely my fault. We were planting my plants in my mom’s yard late last night. It was dark. I took my sweater off because I didn’t want to get it dirty. But then I completely forgot about it and left it out all night on a garden chair. I know better. I was absent minded. Of course my mom’s overly rambunctious lab puppy was going to chew it to pieces. She’s a puppy! She shreds everything. You should see the “dog couch” that they sleep on. Every morning my mom comes out to a yard covered in “snow” which is actually the stuffing that has been pulled out of the dog couch’s cushions. Even though I want to, I can’t get mad at the dog.

So after photographing the carnage for posterity and a proper sweater burial in my mom’s kitchen trash can, I have vowed to move on and take things a little easier.