Woman POC in power wheel chair having a conversation with the caregiver standing next to her.

Maintaining Relationships with Family and Friends

Caretaking for a loved one is a full-time gig. I purposely used the word gig instead of job. I really love what I do. I get paid to be with Mike every day. It is hard work and sometimes I feel overwhelmed because there is never a day off. Every situation has pluses and minuses. In our situation, the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses. Obviously, this is more than just a job.

Will my family understand my caregiver role?

One thing I worried about was how my relationships would be affected with my family and friends. Would my family and friends accept Mike? Will they understand that I need to be available for him and that he usually needs to go with me? Will they even like Mike as much as I do? Will his caretaking strain other aspects of my life, especially other relationships?

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I’ve written about this before, Mike is great with people. He’s an excellent communicator. One of his gifts is getting people who don’t like to talk to open up. Everyone loves talking to Mike, especially my family and friends. I often tell everyone that he’s the better half. It’s a moniker that Mike disagrees with. He insists it’s me. I’ll save you from our cute banter.

Dealing with social anxiety

Social anxiety is something that I have dealt with throughout my life. One of the first things I found attractive about Mike was his ability to talk to anyone. Leave him alone for a few minutes and he’ll strike up a conversation with whoever is around. He has a certain charm about him that people gravitate towards. Obviously I have and so have my family and friends.

Mike’s ability to talk has really helped me in regards to my relationships with family and friends. Having him by my side reduces my social anxiety. There is a comfort knowing that he can keep a conversation going if I can’t. Like any couple we have a great way of complimenting each other.

This worry hasn't come true - just the opposite

My initial worry of taking care of Mike would have a negative impact on my relationships was just that, a worry. In fact I would say the total opposite has come true. It has helped me grow and strengthen my relationships. He is really good at reminding me to contact my friends and family. That is something I was never good at. Mike just has a knack for knowing when to make contact and what to say.

It’s safe to say the verdict is in. Maintaining relationships with my family and friends was not altered due to taking care of Mike.

Communication is the key

If this is a concern of yours my suggestion is open communication and dialogue. Communication is the key to any relationship. Being able to communicate effectively is what makes Mike and I’s relationship work so well.

He has also taught me how to communicate better with my friends and family. Nowadays we joke that he is my parent’s favorite kid, as he is usually the most responsive one and the quickest to text back.

Sometimes we talk about how having SMA has likely shaped Mike’s personality. Obviously, I wish he didn’t have it, but it probably also has a lot to do with him becoming the kind and compassionate man he is today. Suffice to say, every peril has an asset.

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