Updated: May 6, 2021
Third Entity, almost sounds like something out of Star Wars... sometimes living with the third entity seems like we are living in a galaxy far far away...
When we're living with a chronic condition, it fundamentally changes and affects everything in our world. It impacts how we wake up in the morning, how we navigate the day and how we maneuver our way through our lives. What we fail to do sometimes is recognize the disease as the third entity that now cohabitates with us and becomes part of our unit as a whole. It influences the way we make decisions, how we navigate the world and most importantly how we see each other.
How we welcome the addition to the family into our home, I believe, is what makes the difference between becoming the disease and living with the disease. I sometimes equate it to a toddler moving into the house, it is messy, out of control and damn demanding at times. It requires us to change the way we see situations and each other and adjust the way we react to each other.
For me this is the part that took me a long time to figure out. Jeff is my second husband and our relationship is fun, funny, loving and comfortable. Something about second relationships or relationships later on in life at least for us, you approach them so much differently than the first, you talk before you fight, you wake up each day trying to make the others day better and build a life on common ground going the same direction. It does however, require you to change the lens in which you see each other, because just because something may look the same does not mean it is the same. Especially if you came from an abusive relationship previously, it takes some time to trust the new view, the way you are treated and our ability to trust the new story you tell yourself when similar things come up.
The lens NEEDS to change again or at least be flexible when you add the third entity to your relationship. If you apply the same logic and rules when the third entity becomes part of your unit, and don't shift the story you tell yourself your relationship will slowly start to deteriorate. Love...it’s the strongest most powerful weapon you have against the disease, you need to care for it, as much as you are caring for the one you love.
Here is the best example I can give you. Jeff is in a lot of pain all the time, and sometimes when things are really had for him he will say something off the cuff that will trigger this thing in me that makes me want to react to what he said in a way that is not favorable to me or him. It creates war in my heart and everything he does the rest of the day that normally would not bother me becomes one more nail in his coffin so to speak and I am emotionally high-jacked all day. If pain is going to happen everyday, how many days do you think we can do this before we/I can’t anymore...
I've learned this is about grace and the stories we tell ourselves about the situation. When I take that same situation and the trigger it causes and turn it into “wow, he is in so much pain today” I have peace in my heart and I have extended the grace to myself and remind myself that this husband does not talk to me like that... It is the pain talking and the best way I can support him and me in that moment is to choose a different story.
I believe with my whole heart that it doesn't matter if you are professional caregiver or a family caregiver, what makes the difference for all of us is our human experiences and... How we love each other through it....
The Third Entity is going to change all of your realities and then some...We have to shift our thinking from focusing on all the realities and spend more energy on the possibilities this new member brings instead of what it takes.
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