OK! I mentioned my “Gumbo Metaphysics” in earlier entry vs a philosophy of caregiving. I have no all encompassing recipe. Knowing what I know now, I can understand wondering if someone could be your caregiver or could you be theirs? All I can share is how I came to brew my own gumbo metaphysics of caregiving.
Caregiving more likely than not is thrust upon you. In the beginning you try to share with the other person their critical stages of grief, rage, and acceptance yet you also begin to find yourself alone in a kind of parallel universe as this new caregiver type person. Who are you? What do you really believe?
First of all, caregiving is a CHOICE; the person you are caring for has NO choice to be ill or disabled. You will always be seperated by that reality. Choice motivates and can haunt. Choice is not a rock, it’s more like a beach tested daily by tides and randomly battered by storms.
My personal recipe for gumbo metaphysics began with Maggie Strong’s book, “Mainstay” as the stock. I grabbed for a manly-man pinch of true grit from John Wayne movies, and a pinch of the tireless knight errant from Don Quixote. (Women might phrase that differently with variations of the "L" word but I'm a guy and needed manly inspiration.) With time I found myself adding a pinch and a half of the fear of loneliness from Poe’s 'The Raven'. What is important is that you start pulling ingredient ideals from anywhere.
Stress becomes a critical ingredient. Try what you want; sooner or later you learn you have to embrace it. Somehow all the copies of the Serenity Prayer on earth are missing the asterisk at the bottom that specifically excludes caregivers. Stress’s good buddy ‘anger’ is an alternative energy source. It can be harnessed and has fueled many new limits of endurance.
Our story is about spousal caregiving, marriage vs divorce cannot be ignored. Give or take, two thirds of marriages currently end in divorce anyway. Marriages in this pressure cooker have divorce rates far higher. You do the math, what are your odds? Additionally, there are logical and economical reasons to divorce sooner than later if that is the decision you make. No one is a bad person for choosing not to be a caregiver.
In retrospect, my early recipe was adversarial in nature. Like the gunslinger character in our Old Tyme photo, I believed I could defend my family from an enemy, Multiple Sclerosis. That was inadequate, then, and for the decades of attrition that lay ahead. It was especially flawed for the dual role of spouse caregiver and nurturing parent. More seasoning was needed.
(I’m always conflicted whether “to be continued” or “posting lengthy entries” is the worse sin. Leaving it to a coin flip, this will be continued … )