I'm just a little afraid.
Right now I'm in a hotel in Ottawa all by myself. Joe is in the next room over but there is no adjoining door so it's just me here. Since I became disabled I have not ever been entirely on my own, not really at all. As such I've become, I realize as I sit here, a bit dependant on Joe's physical presence. Not that he does every little thing for me, or that I can't do things on my own, but just having him around makes me feel like ... if something happens, like I fall which I am prone to do, there's someone to call out to.
"I've fallen and I can't get up."
And though the bathroom is supposed to be accessible, the toilet is one that is grade school height and the bar is way above it. There is no side bar. We've agreed, no using the toilet unless I call him back over, the bathroom is a Dave-tragedy waiting to happen. But the bed is very small and the room was deemed to tiny for a roll-away cot, a Z-bed. So the conference people offered Joe his own room, I suggested that he take it. He's a bit to old for cots anyway.
All this time, two years, and Joe's presence kept me from realizing how much of my life, my independance and my sense of personal security my disability has taken. All this time I thought, so what, no big deal, I can manage just fine, thank you. And I was wrong. "We" can manage just fine but maybe, truthfully, "I" cannot.
This would be a depressing realization. But in fact, it's not. Over the years we've relied on one another in greater and lesser amounts. There are many things that Joe completely relies on me for ... they are that 'that's you're job' kind of things. This is a little different because I do what Joe does not want to do, not what he can't do. Here, it's abit more of the 'can't' situation.
But what's got me thinking here about how Joe has managed for two years to let his assistance really slip under the radar. His manner hasn't made me feel burdonsome, or like I should be constantly in his debt. He has provided support to me that has allowed me to continue on my path, to strive after my goals, to be the master of my own destiny. He has never for a moment, now that he has the power of assisting, misused that power. He has shown me that power need not always corrupt.
I will make it through the night, of course, if I fall I just have to crawl to the wall and bang on it. Or as Joe put it before he left a few minutes ago, "Knock three times on the wall if you want me, twice on the pipes if the answer is Joe, Now!"
While I do not see Joe as my 'staff' or my 'carer', I do see in him the elements of what it takes to give support without taking leadership.
It's something I'm going to think more of, take more notice of, even talk to him about. There's a staff training in this, maybe even for me.