Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Responses To “The Loss of Femininity”
The response to the articles entitled The Loss of Femininity (July 3, July 10, 2009) has been overwhelming. There were so many women who identified with “Alice” as she felt less and less like a woman, as she was forced to take on traditional male roles in order to care for her husband. So many well spouses wrote to me expressing how they too no longer have the desire to dress up, wear makeup or even care for their health. Care giving has stolen everything from them, and for some even the desire to live. And, like Alice, most well spouses became invisible to family and friends who long ago stopped offering help, seeing these women not as people or women, but just as caregivers.
Thank you again for an article that I intend to share with as many caregivers as I can.
The thing that shocked me the most was that, as a caregiver, I didn’t even see this very obvious question. It took someone who was not a caregiver to point it out to me. I am so used to struggling alone with these things that it didn’t even occur to me that a reasonable person outside the situation might think that someone should offer to help.
“What about being all dressed up in my good clothes and having to take the walker out of the car and helping him into it? (and) driving off after leaving him in the warm building while I parked the car with my jewelry on hoping I don’t get mugged.”
“His family said they’d (visit him) if I make dinner. Great, I’m really in the mood to cook a dinner and then and only then will (they) come.”
“When you wrote in this article ‘some have actually told me that their neglect of their health is their cowardly way of speeding things up’ (meaning their own death) you could have been writing about me. I run to the doctor with him. Myself, on the other hand, forget about it.”
It is my fervent hope that, after reading these reactions, anyone knowing a well spouse will take a second look at them and the lives they lead. Helping them in small ways, seeing them as a person and not just a caregiver can do more than you know. It may even save their lives.
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We studied his seforim together, we listened to famous cantorial masters and we spoke of his illustrious yichus, his pedigree, dating back to the famous commentator, Rashi.
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Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.
I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.
Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.
Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.
Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.
Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/we-are-invisible/2009/07/29/
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