• Nichole Castillo

Feeling Like a Burden

I’ve always been the type of person who hates unproductivity. I’ve kept myself busy with work and school, many times both. When I graduated from university, I often had two jobs at a time. That was my life. I focused on work, often stressing myself out more than need be, and dedicated my free time to Angel and Juno. Lupus and being sick were the last things on my mind. I mean, who had time for that when we had to cook and clean, take Juno to the dog park, go on vacation, and just live.

Fast forward a few years and we’re months into this pandemic. Angel and I finished recording our first podcast episode and he’s getting ready to head into work (transitioning to in-person even though the cases are through the roof). I’m still in bed while he’s getting ready for work and I can hear his frustration. The apartment hasn’t been cleaned in a couple of days, we’re low on groceries, and Juno is crying even though he’s played, eaten, and done his business. I get out of bed and offer to help while trying to keep to myself that my left hip is absolutely killing me. Angel sees me struggle to get to the kitchen and tells me to get back in bed before I seize from the pain. I have no choice because I know he’s right and it’ll just make it that much more difficult for him if I don’t listen. It breaks my heart watching my husband make breakfast while doing dishes while trying to clean up the kitchen all when trying to get ready to go to work and then there’s me…laying on the bed like a potato.

Ever since I stopped working and began having trouble walking, I’ve just felt like the biggest burden ever. Not only can I not contribute financially, but I can’t remember the last time I cooked or cleaned without causing myself to seize or passing out which in turn just creates more stress for Angel. I feel completely inept at everything. For the past year and a half, he’s had to cook, clean, work, take care of Juno, go to school full-time, and take care of me all on his own. That’s the one downside of moving away from family. And the worst part is, he’s never complained. That just makes me feel even worse and like I’m just the worst wife out there. I can’t help but think that this is not what he signed up for.

This is a topic I’ve touched on with my therapist often because it makes me feel so bad inside. It’s like, what am I bringing to this relationship? How do I make him happy or make his life easier? What do I do for us? So, to all of you who feel the same way at one point or another, I’ve learned that only a couple of things make me feel better. Granted, it doesn’t work all the time, but it seems to make a difference.

1. Make sure they feel appreciated – Often times I’ve asked Angel what I can do for him and while at times he’s said nothing, other times he says he just wants to feel appreciated. He wants me to acknowledge that he does a lot and can’t do everything at once (sometimes I forget that he’s not superman, at least not completely but pretty damn close). So, I try to tell him as much as I can that I appreciate him. Sometimes it’s in the form of a letter, or a text when he least expects it, or other times it’ll be when we’re watching tv and I’m just looking at him and thinking how lucky I am.

2. Do what you can when you can without overdoing it – You’d be surprised at how far little efforts go because for us, they’re big efforts. Whenever I feel a small burst of energy or I see something that I think I can do quickly, I’ll do it. If there are only a few dishes in the sink, I’ll psych myself up, play some music, and get it done while trying to cause the least amount of pain as possible. Or, when enough of Juno’s confetti (hairs) have amounted to a “I’m going absolutely crazy” quantity, I’ll vacuum up as much as I can and even though I may leave the vacuum out because I’m too exhausted by the end, it’s also a visual for Angel to see and he always appreciates it.

3. Cut yourself a break – Chances are you’ve contributed more to your relationship than not, even if you don’t think you have and though it sounds corny, there’s a reason why it’s called unconditional love. The love and happiness you bring to people outweigh by far any “burden” you may feel you are. It’s so important to remember that instead of questioning why some people are so good and patient that we appreciate them instead and remind ourselves that we’re worth it. We’re worth being taken care of, worth loving, worth the hospital stays and doctor’s appointments. We’re worth way more than what we give ourselves credit for. So give yourself a break and don’t forget to treat yourself too.

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