Okay, here goes, everything on the table. I started seeing a new girl about a month ago and things are going REALLY great. There is one kink, she has multiple sclerosis and I am in a learning curve. Life is full of challenges.
So, the other day I’m on the couch enjoying a bowl of ice cream (Breyer’s Rocky Road) and I look in the kitchen and my new girlfriend is in her wheelchair, doing the dishes. I suddenly got this vision of hlanelee’s mom giving her opinion of the situation and it would not be good. I told my girlfriend that I was watching her do the dishes from her wheelchair and it suddenly made me feel like dirt. She began laughing at me and pointed out that I was still on the couch, eating ice cream, I must not feel too badly. She also pointed out that I did cook and she was doing her part and later, when she was finished, we would make things even more equitable.
Also, she has been teaching how I can help her with her stretching/PT exercises, it’s really a lot of fun…naked.
Should I feel guilty? Have I reached an all new low?
Guys, I meant to put this in MPSIMS, somebody help!!!
You sound happy. She sounds happy. The two of you are learning about each other. Life is full of learning if you’re lucky and you’re open to it. You don’t have to feel guilty about that, unless you eat all the ice cream while she’s doing the dishes and you don’t leave her any.
Guilty about what? Treating her like a person and dividing up chores like any good relationship does? Of course not. Letting someone else do your dishes (assuming you were at your place)? Well, I have nervous belly rumblings when friends do up the dishes at my place after a meal, but I’m entirely aware that that is due to early childhood programming about being a “good hostess,” and can sometimes get over that. Or is it more along the lines of letting a disabled person do your dishes? If so, get over it. That’s setting up a nasty dynamic in the relationship. You’re not her father, you’re her boyfriend. (Assuming you’re a guy. Change to gender appropriate nouns if otherwise.) You don’t have to “take care of her” unless she asks you for specific help with a task. (Reaching a high placed object could use some assistance.)
I’ve got a friend with profound CP, with no muscle control 'cept for her neck. She “talks” by moving her head to the left as we list letters to spell words. Yet every “pitch in and help” occassion, she’s there. Can she help pack boxes and load a moving truck? Plant a garden? Sling mud or wield a paintbrush? Nope. But she can sit there and crack jokes with the help of her assistant that keep us laughing and make the time pass more quickly. She can offer advice about where to put things, choices of colors, or what plants grow well next to what. She demands that the workaholics take a break by coming and talking to her for a few minutes, thus sparing them injury. She has an unerring eye for tension and a fight about to break out amongst friends, and the skill to quickly diffuse those situations before they get ugly.
The thing is, she wants to help out her friends, just as all of us do. She can’t do it in conventional ways, so she’s found some very creative ways of truly being a help. Your girlfriend sounds like her disability is far less profound than my friend’s. She also sounds like she wants to help. So accept her help, and thank her for it.
I’m assuming you think your mother would not approve of you sitting on a couch eating ice cream while someone in a wheelchair was (gasp!) washing dishes. Because obviously people in wheelchairs are totally helpless and should not be allowed to do things normal people do. Even if they want to.
You have nothing to feel guilty about. She was doing something she wanted to do, and from her response to your comment about “feeling like dirt” she obviously thought she was doing “her share” of the chores. Being in a wheelchair just means she can’t walk; it doesn’t mean she can’t do anything. If you had jumped off the couch and stopped her from washing the dishes, then you should have felt guilty for treating her like a “helpless cripple” who should just sit around and do nothing.
She sounds like a wonderful person with her head together. Hope things work out; although if you’re helping her exercise naked I’d say you’ve got a pretty good start.
I would simply assume that she can do anything you can from the chair – differently sometimes, but still do it, you do what you have to – and do not feel the slightest bit bad about it. If you offer help and she declines, fine. If she asks for help, fine. Otherwise, she’s got a lot more experience doing stuff from that chair than you do.
You have no reason to feel bad, really.
Another vote, no, from what you’ve said. Your gal sounds comfortable in doing the dishes; your guilt seems to be coming from a stereotype of “helping” people who get labelled disabled. If she’s ably washing the dishes, and you cooked, seems like an equal arrangement to me, and count yourself lucky in finding a hon who does dishes!
The finer points would be asking what she really does need help with— she might want to be proving herself ultra capable to show how strong she is, but, talk may show the balance of an interdependance, (and when in sweet love, a nice dancing dance), rather than the drudge of dependance.
Don’t go with the stereotype voice, as I see the Mom voice…go with your own voice, and let her teach you, nice nekkid stretches and all.
One hint, perhaps, get off the couch and feed her ice cream while she washes dishes.
I included this in your other thread, but it really belongs here…
My wife was diagnosed in November of 2003 and we are still in the stages of figuring out what is going on and how to deal with it. She was affected by a loss of taste for a couple months, but it returned. She currently has some spasticity in her legs and is having a terrible time with neuropathic pain. Her left arm and face are in constant pain but have no treatable source for the pain. We’re still trying to get it under control.
Our big problem is not knowing what will happen next and the possible outlook. At this point, she prefers to continue living life as we had before with the exception of going ahead and doing things now when we might have put them off 'til later.
Case in point:we are going to England to visit relatives in May. She would like to stay in London for a couple of nights with our 3yo twins. The costs are outrageous, but because she is still mobile and in relatively good spirits we are going to proceed anyway so that she has the chance to enjoy the experience now. We just don’t know how her condition will change in the future.
As far as domesticity, things continue the way they always have. I still kick her out of the kitchen ('cause it’s mine, dammit!) and she still insists on doing all the laundry ('cause I don’t do it right!). I do have to ask her how she’s doing when we are on outings, as she will try to do more than her body will let her, so I have to be concious of her abilities (or limitations). She needs to conitnue moving and make sure she doesn’t feel like a burden or (I suspect) a level of depression will move in. She gets mad if I keep trying to help when she doesn’t ask for it.