I was married for the first and only time when I was thirty and my older son was 10. Thirty is definitely not old, but it is old enough for me to have done my share of dating. Dating is a stage of life I do not miss at all. I have told my husband if I am ever single again for any reason, I most likely will remain alone with my books. Searching for a Personal Care Attendant (PCA), to me, feels like dating and maintaining my PCAs reminds me of being in a long term relationship. As a person with a disability, who is dependant on her PCAs for certain daily physical tasks, I find myself in a never-ending cycle of “wooing” my PCA’s. The parallels of the “pursuit” are actually remarkably alike when I stop and think about it.
The initial search for a PCA is very similar to the steps taken by someone who is actively dating. First, in my search, I ask my network (loved ones, people at work, friends, acquaintances), which as you know has its pros and cons. As with dating, you have to have complete faith in the recommendation and hope they know you and are looking for what you desire, instead of impressing their opinions on you without any regard. I personally respect word of mouth, but there are definitely some drawbacks. Now on my part, there is a feeling of obligation to hire this person who came recommended to you, whether or not you think it will work out long term. If for some reason it does not work out, there are a lot of questions and a sense of responsibility on the part of the person who did the recommending.
Have you ever gone on a blind date or used an online dating app? I personally have not. I have heard about some of the horror stories. Assuming some sort of networking does not work out for you, or it just is not your preferred method, then in 2020, the internet is usually the next go to step. When looking for a PCA there are two sites I have come to rely on. The first is http://www.masspcadirectory.org, which is the MassHealth Directory of PCAs. If that does not yield any leads, then my second choice is care.com. Similarly, there are different websites to meet dates – Plenty of Fish, Match.com, Farmer’s Only, Tinder, and Bumble.
Risks common to both when the internet is used in your search:
- being stood up is a reality
- all you have is a picture that most likely is outdated, if it’s really them at all
- blind trust in whether they are the person they say they are
- the first impression is everything
- vulnerability by both parties involved
- you too are judged
Maintaining a Relationship
After the initial meeting, if there is some kind of connection between the two, a second meeting and so on is arranged and before either party necessarily is aware a relationship is formed. Just like other long term relationships, an individual and their PCA fall into patterns. Yes, at some point they both see you naked but that is not actually the only similarity. There is something about the intimacy one has with a PCA that has worked with you for a long time which makes them as close to you as any other type of relationship.
There are goods and bads to all long term relationships. A PCA and their individual (consumer) is no different. You find yourselves creating habits, some of these habits being unhelpful and unwanted. As with other long term relationships, it is not the fault of either party necessarily, but time ticks by and nothing is said; now years pass by making change even harder. At the same time, those same years with the same person bring so much comfort. You do not have to tell them how you like your coffee, or what foods you won’t eat. Having someone in your life who can tell what kind of mood you are in, simply by your body language, when they first lay eyes on you is priceless. It is all whether you are able and desire to do some of the maintenance required to support a long term relationship.
Some Negatives and Benefits associated with any long term relationship:
- remember to acknowledge important dates
- you no longer try to hide bad days
- unguarded trust
- life as you know it is taken for granted
- learned some kind of give and take with each other
- little quirks start to bug you
- sometimes “absence makes the heart grow fonder”
- “the devil you know, ……..”
- family and friends become jealous of your relationships
- insecurities sometimes take over
The awkward break-ups are also par for the course. Meaning when the relationship comes to an end, as most relationships do, there are often hurt feeling and even some hostility. Sometimes changes are hard and things end badly, but sometimes life long friendships are born.
Overall, I am grateful for all my many relationships, PCAs included because the ones that have not turned out so well make me even more thankful for the amazing ones that I do have. The people there at the end of each battle make this crazy never-ending fight worth fighting. Suddenly, some of those long term relationships transition into your family, you can no longer imagine your life without them.
Common Reasons a relationship might end
- new jobs
- a move
- a change in end goals
- internal growth
- new people come into consideration
When the dust settles, no matter the reason for the ending, there is a void in one’s life. As sad and done with “relationships” you feel, and even though not getting out of bed feels like the best option, ultimately that void needs to be filled. Whether it must be filled, because you need help showering, dressing, companionship, or just someone to laugh at your bad jokes. Unavoidably, you get up and back in the saddle.