I recently did an Instagram Live with two women who are both caregivers to their husbands (they are also guest writers on The Graceful Boon) for different reasons. We had wonderful conversations together. We talked about our respective husbands, how many couple don’t the vows, ‘For better and worse; in sickness and in health,’ seriously, how everyone needs being taken care of, and how the word ‘caretaker, is misrepresented by society.
My collaboration with Meriam and Ashley reminded me o a movie I watched years ago. It was the 2010 move, ‘Love And Other Drugs’, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall and Anne Hathaway as Maggie Murdock. Jamie is a womanizer who works in the medical field. While at work, he meets Maggie, a patient, and immediately takes a liking to her. He asks her out, and she agrees to go on a date with him. However, she only wants a sexual relationship.
As time goes on, Jamie and Maggie end up spending more time together, and they begin to have feelings for each other. This leads them to begin a real relationship. It’s later revealed that Maggie has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which is now in the first stages. Jamie stays with her nonetheless, and shows a care compassion and patience towards his new girlfriend. He doesn’t even allow an elderly man whose wife also has Parkinson’s Disease to leave Maggie while he can to go live a ‘normal life’ change his mind.
Maggie’s condition starts to worsen over time, and she starts doubting herself as to why Jamie wants to be with her in the first place when he could easily find himself a healthy woman and be happy with her. Her doubt is especially evident when Jamie starts doing research on what treatment Maggie can go through to make her Parkinson’s Disease better. She eventually breaks up with him because she doesn’t feel she can be with someone who’s only with her if she gets better. Jamie doesn’t agree with her decision, but respects it. After looking through his stuff one day, tough, he stumbles upon a tape of Maggie saying what happiness means to hear. It is then that Jamie runs after her and tells her he wants to be with her. She tells him she doesn’t need to be taken care of, to which he responds that everyone needs to be taken care of. He then reassures Maggie that he’s serious about her when he tells her he doesn’t want to have a ‘normal relationship’ with a ‘normal girl’.
You might say that ‘Love and Other Drugs’, is a romantic comedy. I agree that it’s romantic, but it’s anything but a comedy. Even though there are some funny moments put into play, there is nothing funny about the storyline itself. It’s real life. Even though it’s fiction and is supposed to be entertaining, it’s real life. This is the reality that interabled couples a lot of the times face in romantic relationships.
It was definitely a situation I myself had to face. Unless someone lives with me, no one would ever really see how cerebral palsy affects me. Before I met my husband, I was never in a long term relationship. It was all by choice. I didn’t want a serious relationship, and never thought I’d ever be in one; not even with my husband. The longest relationship I ever had before wasn’t even six months. I never wanted to get deep in a relationship, nor be invested in one. I didn’t want to get too close or too attached. I had too many men (and women) leave once they realized there was physically something different about me. Those that were fine with me being different had no problem leaving when I told them to.
I met my husband by complete chance, and there was something different about him. Actually, everything was different about him. He saw that there as something physically different with me the first time he met me when he noticed I was limping. I told him on our first date that I had cerebral palsy. It was never a secret. I wasn’t ever able to keep it a secret as he’d find out eventually. It’s a physical disability, and it’s nothing that I could ever hide even if I wanted to. He fully accepted it and stayed with me. He knew exactly what he was getting himself into from the very beginning. He even practically disowned his own father to be with me, which you can read more about here.
Our life together wasn’t affected by him not being fully there for me because my disability was there. Our life was affected because of my own lack of self-esteem and my lack of confidence. Just like Maggie, I, too, had my doubts about being in a long-term relationship. The longer we were together, the more I questioned why my husband even needed me. After we got married, those feelings escalated. It was particularly the case because after we got married, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had a rough few years when I couldn’t call myself a functional person. He had more than enough reasons to leave, and yet he never did. That thought never crossed his mind. Even when I insisted he did, he didn’t anyway.
I’ve had conversations with my husband about relationships and what being in a meaningful relationship means to both of us individually. Before that fateful car accident that led me to my epilepsy diagnosis, I asked him if he’d be with me if circumstances were different, such as me not having cerebral palsy. Without any hesitation in his voice, he said no. His reasoning was simple – I would’ve been a completely different person.
He was 100% right. I would’ve been a completely different person if I didn’t have cerebral palsy. I also would’ve been a completely different person if I wasn’t involved in a car accident that led me to be diagnosed with epilepsy. I can honestly say I’m grateful for all that I’ve experienced in my life. It led me to be the woman that I am today. My husband reminds me of that every day. My marriage reminds me that I do deserve to be happy just as anyone else. I deserve to live a free, happy, and healthy life no matter what or who comes my way.
Check out the ending of ‘Love and Other Drugs’ here: