September 22nd, 2011
One of the first times I answered “the heath question” before playing with someone, that’s what I said. I’m not fragile, but I am broken. I have RA, so I have fussy joints. Hubby has a badly injured back. He has had surgery twice in the last two years. Toy has a myriad of problems, treatable and mysterious. And we all get injured, ill or just plain exhausted. So, what then? What do you do when your play partner, your loved one, is not feeling up to snuff?
He once asked me if I could be happy not being suspended by him for a whole year (at the time he was suspending me three nights a week), and suggested that such could be the case some day due to health. Now, I have not gone a full year between suspensions, but often it is months. And yes, I’m still quite happy with him. It isn’t about what we do together, but more about being together.
There is a lot of service in my submission to him, so taking care of him when he’s not feeling well comes naturally. I’m not really the maternal type, but fetching food, giving massages, just sitting and stroking his hair, all feel good to me. Hubby and I are making time to take care of each other more now, too. We plan out our date nights, but sometimes, one or both of us is feeling rough, and we just take care of one another in the same way.
Toy has a unique way of taking care of the sick. She likes to be the Get-Well Fairy and goes to the store and drops of little bags of whatever is needed or wanted. She likes to help people out, and even remembers to let us help her when she’s ill, too. She does ask for help when she really needs it, but sometimes we have to push past her reflexive “I got this, guys.”
So, this is all good and nice and happy. What about the parts I don’t do so well? This is two-fold for me. One, I don’t take care of myself. Two, I over-protect those I love. So, let’s take these in backwards order because the one leads into the other.
Over-protectiveness. If someone is not quite up to their full health, or feeling tired or sore, I assume the role of care taker. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it also means I don’t ask them for anything I might want. I feel that their health is more important and it would be selfish to ask for anything. This happens a lot on Wednesdays. If he comes in late from work and looking worn out or complaining of headache or pain, I won’t ask to play, even if it has been on my mind all day. I don’t want to push him if he’s not up to it, I don’t want him to feel bad for saying no, or make himself feel worse by saying yes. I’m taking away his ability to make that decision for himself by not asking. Bad me. There’s a bit more baggage around that one than just health issues, but that’s not today’s topic.
So, that also leads into not taking care of myself. Just because the desire mentioned above is a want instead of a need (I hesitate to call anything defined as play or sex a need), doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have it. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask for it. I don’t often ask for things I want, because, I tell myself, I don’t really Need them. I put those I care about first, my assumed responsibilities second, and myself third. It’s why I stopped Tai Chi and Yoga, it’s one of the reasons why I can’t get back into kneeling regularly. Those things all came to be “about me.” I’m doing them for myself, so they aren’t as important as the things I’m doing for others.* The only thing that over-rules that is exhaustion. I do veg on the couch when I’m too tired to do anything else, until I fall asleep. With taking on a second job recently, exhaustion is winning out more, and the second job is taking all the time usually reserved for “my things.” Only illness and injury slowed me down this week and did not provide for productive “me time,” and I took extra shifts to make up the missed days. So much to do, it’s hard to find the proper balance.
*As I reread this, I decided some extra discussion was, perhaps needed, to define how this ritual came to be “about me.” Roughly a year and a half ago, he asked me to kneel for him, to get up to thirty minutes a day and to reflect on our relationship during this time. Tai Chi and Yoga became part of this ritual to take care of myself, to be healthy for him. I wrote a post about this just a few weeks ago, about what I could do to reclaim this habit. However, the changes in our relationship, and the problems I had with the kneeling, and my efforts to overcome them, have cast this ritual in a different light. Yes, once upon a time, he asked me to do it. But it no longer feels like a part of our exchange. It is something I do to center myself, or to take care of myself. Not something I do for him. And so, when I fail to do it, it’s just one more thing I don’t do for myself because I don’t have or make the time after everything else I put first.