• Family Matters,  Life Lessons

    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 pathetic here at SAJ.com lately.

    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.