Life with chronic illness can be rife with complicated decisions. Many come with the added weight of grief — do I give up something I love or keep doing it because the emotional loss will be worse right now than the medical consequences?
This is an ongoing process, as each year brings new changes of health and perspective. One such choice has been growing more prominent for me this year: should I move in with my parents?
The benefits would be significant.
They know my health needs better than anyone, and are rock stars at helping me through the tough moments. Living together would make it easier for them to help me with things like laundry or cooking, without them having to travel to come help me out. Not only would it take away some of the burden when they want to come help out, but it would allow me to more easily pitch in for them on good days, to buoy our relationship. My partner is wonderful, but the majority of our visits to couples therapy have centered around illness in one way or another. It is a constant strain.
While I am proud of how we weather it, I long for a life in which the weight doesn’t rest solely on the two of us.
Financially, this move makes sense as well. I cannot work 40 hours a week without health repercussions. One of my medications costs $650/month. I spend thousands each year on care. Sharing housing costs with my parents provides stability and ease.
All of this is compounded by our plans to start a family in the coming year. As I visit with my nieces and nephews, I feel a stab of fear each time I am too sick to interact with them in a loving way, too weak to lift them, or too exhausted to get up in the night when they cry. I genuinely don’t know if I could do this alone. I am blessed to have a partner taking this step with me, but, again, the thought of all of this falling to him breaks my heart. I feel less panic, knowing that my newly retired parents (who LOVE time with grandchildren) will be so close.
I’m coming up on 30. I’m married. I’m doing my very best to feel like an adult. As much as I love my parents, and feel incredibly privileged to even have this option, it feels like a last resort, one that I never imagined I’d take.
With quarantine, my partner’s work closing, and a variety of factors, we finally knew it was time. A week ago, I moved back into my childhood home, into the bedroom with a hot pink rug and butterflies dangling from the ceiling.
I fear for my independence.
I’ve been fiercely independent since childhood, and took pride whenever someone noticed this quality. I will admit my ego is concerned — what will people think of me? Will they think I’m lazy? Mooching off my parents and only working part-time? Will I be seen as less of an adult? These voices shouldn’t influence my thinking, but they do. I find myself justifying it whenever someone asks where I’m moving to.
I’ve heard from many — chronic illness warriors, and just people whose finances have been hit hard these last months — who are making this move. In remembering I’m not alone, I wanted to reach out to see what we could learn from one another’s experiences!
Here are some thoughts from a few of my Friends in the Fight: