I am not known for my compassion. Typically when Jason is sick, I mercilessly mock him when he complains or dramatizes his illness with gasping, sighing or other obvious flags that he is not feeling well. I have a strict "Suck It Up" policy when it comes to sickness, which my kids and my husband have come to grudgingly accept.
Last winter, Jason had a bad cold which took a sharp south turn in a twenty-four hour period, with him spending the night upright on the couch because he couldn't breathe laying down (and kindly vacated the bedroom so I could sleep without him coughing and wheezing all night). In the morning when I came to find him, he was pale and couldn't draw a full breath. I realized with a shock that he was actually very sick, and regretted my business-as-usual approach to his cold.
It was a Sunday morning, and I overrode his protests and drove him to the clinic, and when he came out with a prescription for antibiotics and codeine cough syrup, he was actually relieved to tell me it was pneumonia and he wasn't just being wimpy. This past weekend, when his cold and cough got significantly worse after our date and he began running a fever, I'm delighted to say that I reacted in a more compassionate way. I got him aspirin and water like any good wife, and encouraged him to rest instead of working at his computer and walking on the treadmill.
For the first time, I didn't feel like it took anything away from me to express genuine compassion to my husband. I had always felt diminished personally before when I would show love and care to him when he was sick. It was as though I was keeping score, and felt in the negative before the scoreboard even had any numbers on it. Learning to feel loved in a more complete way has eased this sense of competition between us. I feel more secure and happy within myself, and can give to him without feeling like I am losing any ground in our relationship.
This bit of clarity around Jason's illness has provided me with fresh inspiration. It felt good to be softer and kinder, and have it be a real change, coming from a place deep inside of me. I didn't have to pretend, and he could see that I was different. He was genuinely sick, and I don't like that he felt afraid to show it because I wasn't very nice to him in the past when he wasn't feeling well. I think this will help me in the future when my kids are sick as well.
It's okay to dote on the ones you love and pamper them when they need it, and maybe the next time I'm sick I'll be able to accept that compassion and love as well. I'm glad I've made this change, and it's like every change in that we have no idea we need to alter our behaviour until we realize what is really going on under the surface, and build up the strength to give of ourselves without losing anything in return.