I have a secret. It’s something that I’m pretty sure I’ve only told one other person before. In the worst of times; at my lowest. I feel like a burden to the ones I love.
I have always been one to get the job done. If it is mine to do, I will do it, and do it well. I don’t like to let people down. I am a list-maker (even if it is only in my head). I like things organized. I like finishing what I start, and that feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. I don’t like giving up control. After I left the working world, my job was household management and care. I was no longer contributing to the bank account, so it was important to me to take care of things at home. If I wasn’t doing that, I felt worthless.
Before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I had signs of the illness, but I ignored them. I made up reasons in my mind for them, rationalized what they could be from. No one could tell, but Bill. He was the one I turned to for help, to pick up the slack when I was under the weather. In my head, I was letting him down. Passing the ball. It was just the beginning of a feeling of helplessness that I despised.
During the years when my Crohn’s was active, I relied on Bill to do a majority of the care givng, and household chores, all while holding a full-time job. I was an extra child. I could do almost nothing at home, required many trips to the doctor’s office and emergency room, and even had to count on him to administer some of my medical treatments. Things I never imagined I would have to ask him to do. It was awkward, embarrassing, humiliating. He handled it like a champ. He never flinched. All in the name of love, I guess.
As a result of, and probably as well as, this feeling, I never liked to talk about my Crohn’s symptoms, side effects, test results, or any other health related issue. I did not want to live a life based around discussions of my disease. I had no control over Crohn’s itself, but I did have control over what I filled my head, and heart with. Unfortunately, it is hard to avoid those topics when your face is blowing up from steroids, but your body is withering away. When you are depending on the care of loved ones, whether you like it or not. Talking about it, just reminded me of the burden I felt I was.
In the 13 years I have been in remission, I have been blessedly healthy. An occasional virus, a broken foot, but far and few between. I still find, however, that I can’t help but return to those thoughts. I am still very sensitive to the fear of being helpless, and dependent on others, and I don’t like to think about the possibility of my Crohn’s returning. At the mere mention of illness, or when a sniffle comes around, I jump on the defensive. I am not sick. I am not defective. I am not.
Recently, I had to undergo kidney stone surgery. It turns out, they are a side effect of my Crohn’s disease. The procedure was outpatient, so I thought that I would feel fine by the next day. Unfortunately, the recovery took longer than I expected, and after a week on the couch at home, I ended up in the hospital for a night. I had to rely heavily on Bill, and It all came flooding back. I constantly apologized. He did nothing to make me think I needed to, in fact, he told me to stop, but that burden feeling returned, if only for a short time.
Bill has always been there for me. He has taken care of every task that needed to be done, and has loved me through every bit of it. He has never questioned, complained, whined, or pouted. While I was worried about what I wasn’t doing, he was worried about whether I was going to survive. Whether I would live to see another day. When you think about it that way, it puts it all into perspective. We all have to rely on our loved ones, some more than others, but in the end they will do what they need to do, because they love us.
You are not a burden. You are not. You are LOVED.