I need to clarify a few things, especially, it seems, what may seem like disregard for my health by my husband. I don’t often talk about him in my posts, because it can be extremely easy to let my snippets of life color the way he is seen. He is a flawed person, as are we all, but a person who cares and struggles with what is happening before his very eyes. It’s easy to simply criticize, to assume that what is presented is a complete picture of a situation, when it isn’t. It isn’t. And he is only as flawed as am I, perhaps less so were I to be brutally honest.
It isn’t my duty or place to list his traits, good bad or indifferent. It is only my privilege to express my own emotion and experience in a way that can free me from the shackles of my my own mind, allowing me to work through these things. Sometimes that includes negative impressions.
That being said, it’s important to gain some insight into both of our personalities. I am more exuberant, both vocally and emotionally volatile. I love being around people, experiencing what life has to offer for myself. I love music, food, friends, and words; they are among the things that are vital to my soul. I thrive on the connections that I make with others. I also have a lifetime of experience depending on myself, experiencing life in a way that subtly differentiated me from the world. In the past few years it made me hard in unexpected ways. Several months ago this was brought to my attention in a handful of interactions that should’ve been nothing more important than a door being opened for me, or a chair pulled out in anticipation of me sitting down. Polite gestures, small and inconsequential. Instead, a few surprised comments opened my eyes to the small things I didn’t even realize I was missing. I am so unused to those small gestures that they render me awkward, exposing a chink in the armor of personality and carefree manners with which I am covered. Those few, simple, inconsequential moments led to some introspection that was long overdue. I realized that I felt empty in ways that I shouldn’t, and that for almost half of my life, most of my adulthood, I have compartmentalized the things I love out of duty, necessity. It isn’t a character flaw, it simply is what happened.
He is reserved to the point of sometimes appearing (to me) expressionless. Where I wear my heart and emotions on my sleeve, he is often unreadable. He is a good hearted person, but in ways that are sometimes difficult for me to understand. Stoic. He cares, deeply. But he is having an extremely difficult time accepting that our lives are at this point, where that stoicism, and my inability to determine what is happening within him, sometimes cuts. It is horrible to know that you cannot fix what is happening, and your life will never unfold as you planned and expected. To someone who is almost pathologically averse to change, this is, perhaps, the most unbearable thing that could happen. I don’t envy his experience right now.
I have been more than guilty of glossing over the illness of others, like the time when my three year old had a nagging, wet cough, and after, oh I think something like, 2 weeks before I begrudgingly took her to the doctor, only to find out much to my horror that she had pneumonia. It was my fault for being to self-absorbed to think that she was as ill as she was, her tiny lungs filling with fluid. Or when I was so overwhelmed by life, by motherhood, that I spent years unable to see past the ways in which another child acted out, to how desperately she needed something that I couldn’t give. I was at fault. Not because I was weak or mean, even though that was absolutely how I felt, but because I am human and struggled, as we all do in our own ways.
To categorize the few actions that are recounted during a one-sided dialogue of someone who is dealing with a crisis, long and drawn out though it may be, as wrong or lacking, is to ignore that many, many other facets of both the situation at hand and of the human condition at play. Nothing is as simple as that, not really.
Sometimes my husband is unable to grasp the severity of a situation. It’s only fair, really. I am the one who has traditionally dealt with the vast majority of health issues in our family. I am the one who has only recently stopped trying to be everything to everyone. He is left to be the one on whom the family depends, and that is a very steep learning curve. He is struggling, while I find myself unable to participate in life. My own anger, impatience, and distance aren’t easy to live with. But he does his best. I am relying on him for that. It is all I can ask.
Is a bit of obliviousness and denial too much to accept in exchange?
I don’t think so, even when it hurts.