Monday, September 5, 2011

Am I Being Helpful or Hurtful

As I was floating around the Interwebs over the weekend, I came across the Chronic Pain Blog at Everyday Health. As I do whenever I come across something interesting about Chronic Pain, I dropped everything and started reading.

When I read this post, it made me stop and think about how I treat Steve and the "advice" I give him on a daily basis. Am I helping him or am I hurting him? Item seven in the article states:

Your public persona learns to listen politely while someone gives you their opinion about what you should and should not do. The private you knows you’ll do what you damn well like and just smiles knowingly. I’ve found one of the most misunderstood areas is exercise. “Are you sure you should climb that hill? Should you be doing that? Are you up for that?” There is this public idea that believes caring is shown by these inane phrases. We learn what we can do and what we can’t do. We also think privately, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do. Tell me what I can do or don’t tell me anything at all.” Those of us who live within this private club can share advice. We can. It’s different here in this private world and even then, we know each of us is an individual and our privacy and our individual decisions are respected.

I ask him those kind of questions all of the time. I even go as far as to say "You're not going to do that, right?" when I feel strongly about something.

For example, we had family come to camp in our backyard this weekend. The temperatures have been hovering around 50 degrees the last week or so. Now, 50 degrees to me is pleasant sleeping weather. 50 degrees to Steve means thermal underwear, a jacket and a blanket, if he is going to spend any time sitting outside.

The guys were planning on sleeping in the tent that night. Before they got here I told Steve repeatedly, "I don't want you sleeping in that tent tonight." "You're planning on sleeping indoors, right?" etc., etc., I thought I was being helpful and concerned. Now I see that I was just being naggy.

In my own defense, there are some things he does to hide his pain from others that have very long term repercussions. One of them is not telling his friends and family that he can no longer do certain things such as handle colder weather, crawl under a car to change the oil, sit for long periods of time... So, when his family comes to visit, he does all a lot of things he's not supposed to, then he has to lie on the sofa for days.

So, what? Right? Well, when he has to lie on the sofa, I have to make up the work he would normally do. Which puts me behind on my deadlines and makes me tense. The tension results on a tense environment around the house and upsets the kids. Whereas, if he would have admitted his disability, this would have been avoided. He can still visit with his friends and family, just in a different way than before.

So, the question remains am I being helpful or hurtful? Am I being selfish when I try to stop him from doing something that will put him out of commission for days when it is something he loves doing? Should I just keep my mouth shut and deal with the extra work that comes my way? At what point is he being selfish in his pursuit of a short period of happiness? If you have any thoughts on the matter, please let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment