Disability is a very big part of personal identity, whether it be the person that is disabled or the person that is caring for someone that is disabled. Either can try to see themselves as something other than that, but they will fail to achieve those identities, due to their limitations of themselves or their actions.
This is becoming very clear to me, as I have just spent the last several days taking care of my wife, who had several days in a row of physical issues...first with a massive migraine that wiped her out and made her unable to function for other a day of pain. Then, it was followed by a massive back spasm related to her herniated disk that caused waves of debilitating pain, followed by ...again...being laid out in exhaustion. This is not a new reality for us, as she has these from time to time, and it has an impact on both of us.
When I married her, we dealt with it as I was taking her out for dates and such, so she had to have something to support her back in movies and had to have a comfortable chair for restaurants. However, it wasn't as often as it has become. We knew this was going to get worse, but we didn't expect it to get worse so quickly. Undoubtedly, the stress of dealing with her ex or our move back to this state was not great on her physical condition and probably contributed to it, as it did to my own back and health issues.
I knew that it was an issue that she would have, and I knew that I would be doing more around the house from the start. It HAS taken a tole on me, though, trying to handle the increasing amount of household requirements, while trying to maintain enough income on top of hers. What I thought was two spheres of work-ken and feminine-home-ken that were conflicted IN REALITY were both smaller subsets of the larger sphere of caretaker-ken. THAT is my identity. That sphere is almost a circle in overlap of myself. I wasn't prepared for or looking for that identity, which was hindering my other goals, just as my wife was not looking for the identity of disabled, which hindered hers, as well.
However, that is where we are. SO, starting next week, we will begin the process of applying for Social Security SSI disability as a supporting income. It will limit our ability to save for a house, but it will be a steady income and should never end (as her injury is lifelong), so we can count on it to pay rent as we go forward. At least then, once we recognize and accept those new labels, we will not see ourselves as a failure in the wrong circles but picture-perfect or stellar for the disability circles in which we have been living without acceptance for so long.