If you had asked me last night, I wouldn’t have come, I told Mandy and Athena this morning as we sat in the Round House Cafe.
It’s my sense of being overwhelmed by responsibility that has kept me from doing many things in the past. And now my sense of responsibility was sabotaging me. When Jon’s doctor told him yesterday that he had a skin infection near his surgery wound, my body went stiff, I got light-headed and felt familiar pains in my right side and neck. I was sure it was my fault, that I had done something wrong. I let him walk too much, do too many things on his own, I shouldn’t have left him alone to pick up groceries, I fed him the wrong food, I should have notice the redness on his chest.
Before going to the doctor Jon was talking about how I needed to get back to work. Now I was sure that what I needed to do was not leave him alone for a moment. I had not been vigilant enough, not taken the healing seriously enough.
I was scared, and I knew Jon had to be too. And I wanted to be helpful, to be strong, but I couldn’t help the way I was feeling. And I’ve never been able to hide my feelings from Jon, it’s one of the things I love about him, as annoying as it can be sometimes. On the way home from the pharmacy he told me I seemed really upset to him. And out it all came, how I felt responsible for his infection.
And I’m seeing this is how it goes. Sometimes I’m the rational one and sometimes Jon is. I don’t have to be strong all the time and he doesn’t either. Jon’s hospital stay, surgery and healing has thrown our relationship into an intense microcosm. A tight ball of extreme highs and lows with lulls in between. But we’re the same people in the same relationship which has just been skewed a bit.
And I’m realizing that my sense of responsibility is off. For some reason I had the idea that it was all or nothing. That being responsible means being hyper-vigilant, in control at all times, never making a mistake.
Susie wrote me a message this morning saying that I’m not Nurse Rached. And I’m not. I’m just someone trying to take care of someone I love. Figuring out how to do that. Which means allowing myself to be human and feel and get things wrong sometimes. It means giving Jon the space he needs to be as independent as he can be, trusting he won’t hurt himself and allowing him to make mistakes. It means speaking up when something he is doing bothers me even if I think he might not like it, even if it turns out I’m wrong. It means allowing him to be irritable or depressed when he’s feeling that way and not taking it personally, and allowing the same for me.
So our roles haven’t really changed, we are not nurse and patient. We are lovers and friends, two creative people trying to find a creative way to get through a difficult time together. And responsibility, well, I’m learning what that really means. It’s not taking on someone else’s life or problems, it’s about me doing what I believe is right and best for me and Jon. And knowing that what I believe to be right can and may change from one day to another, because that’s what life does. It changes from moment to moment.