When Dr Phil said that 100% of relationships involving both love and caregiving would fail, I wondered what his relationships look like.
Because, what kind of relationship doesn’t involve caregiving?
The fear of being a burden in a friendship or a relationship is universal, regardless of disability. Society is constantly sending us messages that we can only rely on ourselves. The competitiveness of courses like Law and Medicine at University encourage us to hide our notes from our friends. The breakdown of the welfare state reminds us that our community is not there to fall back on. The “self-care” culture scares us off from leaning on our mates in times of need.
"To suggest that a relationship with a disabled person is inherently imbalanced suggests disabled people have nothing to offer."
Disabled people can experience the brunt of this fear more. I’ve mentioned it before, but we often feel a need to over perform in both our personal lives and professional lives to ‘compensate’ for the feared burden that Dr Phil perpetuates. What Dr Phil may have been trying to say, and what is true, is that relationships require balance, which maybe this particular relationship lacked. But to suggest that a relationship with a disabled person is inherently imbalanced suggests disabled people have nothing to offer.
"A healthy friendship is one that takes turns doing the caretaking"
A healthy friendship is one that takes turns doing the caretaking. If your friends aren’t willing to go that extra mile at times when you need it, whether that be physical help or emotional, then the problem isn’t that you are “burdening” them. The problem is that they probably just aren’t your friend. So, please, know your worth and never feel that you are not enough. At the same time, go that extra mile for the friend who needs it today. If they are really your friend, they’ll do it for you too.
Now, to finish this cheesy article with a cheesy quote; Helen Keller was once asked whether she desired her sight more than anything in the world - her (alleged- never trust the internet) response?
“No! No! I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than walk alone in the light”