Multiple Personality Order
I’ve got this friend with brain cancer. He’s had it for going on 10 years now. His wife, as the primary caretaker, has to shift between multiple roles, often several times a day: the worker at her day job, the mom, the bill-payer, the nurse-maid, the housewife.
These labels aren’t simple stereotypes. They are job descriptions, and every time she goes from one to another it requires a certain amount of mental effort. Mostly unremarkable in that we all have to do this everyday – but in regard to her husband’s health, it takes on added significance, pathos, and other words that don’t do the horrible situation justice.
The roles are what I’ve been struggling with lately. Husband, partner, performer, producer, worker. As my wife leaves for another trip, and I leave for Prague a day before she gets back, we’re looking at another three weeks of long distance communication. Which in some ways isn’t so bad, because the farther apart we are, the clearer the roles are. It’s difficult to do a whole lot more on those conversations than be each others’ support. When we’re local to one another, we have to juggle a lot more.
I think that’s why having pets is so satisfying in so many ways. There aren’t that many ways to relate to a dog or a cat. With the dog, I’m the pack leader. With the cats, I’m just the Pinky-with-the-food (and warm lap).