Drawing a Line: On Co-Dependence and Continual Guilt

Yesterday I had one of those “hang on a minute” moments.
The previous evening, Nick and I had gone out for a drive into the countryside and eaten at a nice pub with stunning views and a fat old Labrador stealing chips from under the tables.
It had been a week of many meetings as his NHS Active Recovery support segues into an intermediate care package from the local authority and so he’s seen me at least once a day, every day. To my amazement the council carers are wonderful – and he seems to be seeing the same people every time so they can better understand his needs and build up a relationship. They’ve even done things like feed the cats and hanging up the washing without being asked. I begin to feel that he is being looked after well and that I can relax a tiny bit.
During the periods I haven’t been with him I have been occupied in phone calls, meetings and admin on his behalf so coming to work for a long day is in a funny way a bit of a break. I’d reminded him the night before that I’d be at work til at least 7pm so I wouldn’t see him til evening, and had popped in first thing on my way to work and left a note.
So when around lunchtime I got a text from him saying, “What are your plans for the day?” my feelings were…complicated.

He needs to have social interaction, I see that, and it is very hard in a new place with limited mobility to just jump up and meet people and make friends. So he is kind of stuck with us. But the fact is, I can’t provide him with a ready-made social network just like that. I can barely provide it for myself at the moment.
And socialising, as we’ve already said, is tricky; with the best will in the world, people aren’t prepared for him, his sudden lurching about, his not being able to get comfortable, his speech often hard to understand, his deafness. It can be exhausting trying to hold a conversation and it can sometimes feel like you are barking up the wrong tree even trying.
He is so lovely and I wish we had more opportunities to show people that. I should do more myself, invite people round, make the effort, I know – it’s just that I was gearing up to do just that but these last few weeks since his accident have taken up so much of my puff that it’s been the last thing on my mind.
I hate the thought of him being lonely, sitting in the flat on his own. Stuck in his own world, lacking the physical and mental wherewithal to break out, when I can so easily put my own plans on hold and just nip over there to say hello.

I remind myself of all the years he lived alone and how content he seemed then without any real social circle or intimates. But geography has changed things.
It’s as if that self-contained bubble he had then has suddenly burst and that now he’s so close to family, to me and all that regular interaction, he craves company again. And of course the illness makes him increasingly less aware of other people’s agendas and more – I won’t call it selfish, but just more inflexible when thinking of his own. But also, the classic apathy of Huntington's Disease as the basal ganglia of his brain corrodes, makes him less and less able to initiate things himself. 
So he does expect me to be around more than somewhat.

But it is not my absolute responsibility at all times to make sure that Nick is entertained and it is not my job to make him happy. Harsh. But true.
The burden of his expectation weighs so heavy and I don’t know if it’s really from him or if it’s my projection. Maybe he thought I had this great life, full of friends and outings and spontaneous invitations and interesting things to do – and well, I used to. But invitations have dwindled as my commitments force me to cancel or revise, and there are so many places he can’t access and conversations he won’t follow, and however central he is to my life these days, it is just not appropriate to try to shoe horn him in.
And I think – there is a place where I have to draw the line.