Four sandwiches on the board

I turned forty-three years old last month. Yay, me.
Birthdays have never been particularly monumental to me. I neither dread nor rejoice in them.

This year, hubby decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to have the honor of making all the decisions. What to do, where to eat, all the things. “It’s your birthday, so whatever you’re heart desires.”

So sweet.

Except, in a home where the typical conversation is “I don’t really care. Whatever you want.” this felt a bit more like a chore. With a dear husband who suffers from severe pain, anxiety, and depression, I often feel like I am making all the decisions on a daily basis already.

Can my birthday wish be for someone else to make all the decisions for the day, please?

But… an interesting pattern showed up while we played this out.

I really wasn’t making all the decisions, at least not in the way that you would think.

Walk with me through just one example. (There were several by day’s end.)

After a few hours of work (I work from home) hubby came into my office and we were chatting about the day. He was having a good day and I half-joked that it would be great if he would go across the street and bring us back sandwiches for lunch.

This place is not really his favorite. But this was what I wanted. Mainly because it was close, and I was hungry.

He agreed at first but then, after a few quiet minutes, suggested he would like to go into town to do a few quick things and could grab BBQ while he was there. I liked BBQ, right?

Well, yes but not as much and I was hungry. This journey he was proposing would take at least an hour and a half before I saw food. He disagreed and gently persuaded. I considered and agreed. That would be fine.

Then, I stopped solid and started laughing.

So, it was my day to pick whatever I wanted – provided it was what he wanted. I pointed this out and he let out a nervous laugh of acknowledgment. And then went to get me a sandwich before heading into town.

The funny thing is, I almost caved for BBQ. I actually DID cave for BBQ. He wanted it. I really didn’t care either way. Or, did I?

I honestly couldn’t tell anymore.

Even when I thought I knew what I wanted and made a decision, if he wanted something else I quickly changed my mind to agree, without even really thinking about it. I am so accustomed to putting his needs before mine, making sure everything is set for him, that somewhere along the way I have lost touch with what it is I really want.

Then to top it all off, he comes back from the sandwich shop with my sandwich and some chocolate candies for my birthday. The chocolate candies that HE likes. We got a gentle laugh out of that.

Even he doesn’t realize that our entire world revolves around what’s best for him.

In this complex relationship where I am all the things – woman, wife, caregiver, breadwinner, warrior – there is a gentle balance. And that balance is often not very balanced at all. Truth be told, I would choose his preference over mine most days of the year and be more than happy with it. But, this lesson was not lost on me. A gentle reminder that, although I’ve been doing intense self-healing exploration for two years now and have gained much from it, I still have many miles to go.

Carolyn Witt, Hopeless to Healing

I know how suffocating it can feel when you are facing something so painful alone. Surrounded by so many others yet still feeling so alone. The circumstances may differ but the human elements are so much the same. I see you. Your fight is my fight. You are a warrior.

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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