Monday, May 2, 2011

Housework, self-care, pacing, obedience, and self-image

I tried to cook dinner a few months ago. Master does all of the cooking since I have trouble standing and am heat intolerant. Plus, even after 8 years of living together, he's not very good at finding partial tasks for me to do that would help him. I really wanted to take some of the burden of cooking off of him. Cooking used to be something that I enjoyed doing but due to health and bad experiences I haven't enjoyed it in several years. I tried to make Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. (fresh tomato version, vegan version) (I highly recommend this sauce. It's satisfying and tastes delicious.)
Master suggested I use the double boiler so there'd be less risk of the sauce burning. Of course I did as he suggested. The idea of not having to babysit the sauce appealed because it would mean less standing and fewer trips to the kitchen. I used the triple bottom sauce pan with the double boiler that came with it. Even with our gas stove this pan can be slow to heat up but heats very consistently so I wanted to use it. Unfortunately, while I got the water to boil the sauce itself never came to a boil. I tried to make do with the low simmer I had but the tomatoes just weren't breaking down.
After about two hours I asked Master to come take a look at dinner. He dumped out the water from the bottom pot and poured the sauce into it. I wasn't happy to have made more dirty dishes but at least now there was hope that dinner would actually cook.
Master loved the final sauce and wanted to add it to our regular meals. I wanted to cry. This hadn't been this simple, positive experience I'd been hoping for and needed. In fact, I wasn't sure if I should ever try cooking again.
My confidence blown I decided to focus on helping with the dishes. Master is the only person I know who can seriously cut himself washing dishes. That makes me want to protect him from the dishes. However I'm prone to dropping things and I don't want him to have to clean up broken glass or pottery. No matter how hard I'd try to clean up something I broke Master would still clean again to make sure both of us were safe.
As a baby step I decided to work harder at putting dishes away. Of course then we had a heat wave and I could barely stand up. Master doesn't like it when I'm in the kitchen and about to fall down. I can understand that.
Gradually, I slipped farther into a funk. I'm pathetic and useless. All Master does is take care of me. The more depressed I got the less motivation I had to force myself to do housework whenever I was at all able. It became this horrible cycle.
Master insists that I'm not lazy, I'm just taking care of myself. My point of view is a bit different. Stopping when I need to is taking care of myself (and thereby Master's property) but there's no reason that I'm not setting a timer for an hour and then trying again other than fear and laziness. At least, that's how I see it. I can feel capable when seated but as soon as I stand and take a few steps to the kitchen the unsteadiness increases dramatically. I'm amazingly glad I feel 'okay' seated or reclined but it does annoy the heck out of me that standing is so difficult and some things require standing in this house.
I have developed a fear of falling. To some degree it is a rational fear. Falls, especially in a cluttered kitchen, can lead to serious injury. That said, I haven't actually fallen in over a year. Master attributes that to my being careful but I'm not sure if I'm become overly cautious. Master values me and wants me to prioritize being careful and safe over almost everything else. Whereas I want to be useful and take good care of him. This difference in priorities can cause some problems.
I do my best to go with Master's priorities but I have a ways to go in feelings good about myself when I do. Right now I feel like I'm taking the easy way out. Ideally, I feel like I'd manage both. Taking care of myself, limiting how much Master has to worry about, and still reducing the work around the house for Master to do.

Master has asked me to cook that same dish a few more times. So far, it is the only thing I ever cook. I've singed it once but otherwise it gets slightly easier every time. Honestly, I think Master is right to pick one dish to help me work on my cooking confidence. I feel a bit less useless too.
Putting dishes and groceries away isn't going well. I've been experiencing a lot of nausea and dizziness. Plus, Master is the one who uses the kitchen so things need to be put away where they are easy for him to access. Our little metal box of a home leaves much to be desired in the areas of storage and organization and so it is daunting task to put things away in such a way that he'll approve.

Also, I'm working on changing the order that I do things in. I used to get up and put the dishes away and then couldn't make myself breakfast. So, Master would end up making me food when he got up a few hours later. Master has convinced me that I need to take care of myself first. If I do that I'm more likely to be able to do more than the bare minimum to survival. While I'd rather do things to help Master first I know it doesn't help Master for him to have to take care of me as soon as he gets up even if that means he has to put an extra drainer full of dishes away.

Occasionally he'll ask me to do something and it will take me some time to finish the what I'm already doing for him so he'll just go ahead and do the task. He says it's the same as when I've asked for help with something and then, after waiting some variable length of time, just try to do it myself. Problem is, Master has a very bad sense of time and I've lived with him long enough that my sense of time is shot too-just not in the same way his is. So, he'll think he gave me 'plenty of time' and it felt like less than five minutes to me. Or I'll think I gave him an hour to get around to helping me and he'll think it's been 5 seconds. While Master doesn't make a value judgement about my performance when I've taken too long-I do. When I don't remind him that I asked for something and instead try to get it myself he feels bad while I'll just assume he has more important things to do.
None of this would be an issue if I wasn't so slow at everything and if I didn't ask for so much help. This is another reason to be more diligent in my pacing and self-care - hopefully I'll be bale to safely avoid asking for help and do things more swiftly.


  1. *HUGE HUGS* You are doing so much better than you think, Sweetie. Look at the little things: Your Master liked that tomato sauce so much that he wants you to make it again. True, there were hiccups along the way in making it, but you did it, and he loved it. :)

    I know it's hard. I have a lot of problems with cooking too, but little by little you're doing it. :) *hugs* It'll only get easier with time.

  2. Thanks Kitty. I know you're right. We've gradually gotten a few new kitchen items (a non-reactive pot, a boat motor type mixer) that have helped)
    Master now jokes about my protecting him from this dishes. (I've never had to go to the ER as the result of doing dishes but he has.)
    I've even been able to use the oven a few times in the last month and I'd forgotten that. Thanks.
    I have this quirk that if I've cooked something I usually won't want to eat it. He's working with me on that. :) So, you're right. It really is looking upand every little bit he doesn't have to do is a help.