The Challenge of Accepting My Partner’s Approach to Illness
Hi, Maude here. I’ve been facing some challenges to our usually very easy practice of total acceptance in this last period of time.
What is this issue that has been so difficult for me? Healthcare and how Phil and I differ on how to deal with illness. On the surface, this would seem like any other difference that we could just deal with by finding mutual solutions, by communicating our feelings, and by our easy trust of each other that leads to total acceptance.
But this hasn’t worked with this one, and it has brought up for me all kinds of feelings that are difficult and very charged.
Neither Phil or I have been sick very often. We have been blessed, but I also know that with maturing age, we will be facing this more and more.
When I am ill, I bring everything I know to bear to combat the problem. I get information if I don’t already have it, I apply all methods available to conquer the illness, boost my immune system, and get me back to functioning at top level. I have worked in healthcare from many angles and am reasonably well informed. I’m not saying I don’t allow my body to rest and recuperate, as I do, but I also work toward my health diligently.
When Phil is ill (sorry, couldn’t resist), he beds down to wait it out, grin and bear it, so to speak. He pretty much refuses to take anything or do much of anything. He greets suggestions with refusal and will growl about it being his body and pushes back quite strongly against any attempt to offer or push actions to better the situation.
Normally this would be a great example of how people (perhaps genders) handle issues differently and would be a perfect place to apply total acceptance, get out of the person’s way and just accept that they have a different way of doing things than I do.
Well, as I’ve said that didn’t work for me this time.
I had a very dear friend who had many symptoms of not being OK for a long time. His friends and family urged him to get checked, to do something, to check what was going on with him. He refused. And he kept refusing until at one point, the situation became so extreme that he had to be taken to the hospital. There it was found that he was in the end stage of a now fatal illness, one that would probably have been treatable at an earlier time. He fought it then for several years before he passed. I still feel so sad about this. I love him dearly, and I was also angry at him for a long time for not having done something while there was still time to alter the course of the illness. Angry that he was no longer there for me to laugh, love and spend time with. Angry that he abandoned his wife because of what appeared to me as stubbornness or fear.
Total acceptance is realizing what your partner does is not about you, but about who they are #quote Click To TweetAnd there is the crux of the matter. I was seeing these kinds of refusals to take care as abandonment. All kinds of things around this have come up for me with Phil’s latest illness and his way of dealing with it. I’ve got some heavy issues in this department, with both my parents having died suddenly and several other deep experiences of sudden loss.
As it turns out, this has been a profound learning experience for me. Somehow, while my love is lying here being ill, I was making this all about me. I was getting angry, feeling betrayed, left alone, not cared about etc. etc. etc. And this is where we can really come to understand what total acceptance is about.
It is about realizing that we are each separate and unique people, and what your partner does is not about you, but about who they are. When their actions have consequences for you, then it is important to communicate and to find ways to acknowledge each other’s needs and find mutual solutions, and to act with honor and respect toward each other. But total acceptance is just that. It is totally accepting the other person and trusting them. I am humbled by what this journey has taught me about just that.