Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Done All Wrong

     I handled that badly. And by "that", I mean the last little go-around we had with my husband's health. It wasn't anything super-serious this time (as always, relatively speaking), and I knew that. At this point in the game, I can distinguish pretty easily between something that's cause for alarm and something that's just going to disrupt our normal routine. Eye issues with him generally fall into the latter category and when I was awakened at six in the morning, a full two hours before I needed to get up and get ready for work, I wasn't sympathetic, I wasn't concerned for his well-being; I was just flat-out annoyed.

     I know I've mentioned feeling that way before, but only in passing and that was partly out of not knowing whether or not it was something I wanted to delve into and partly out of fear. I was/am afraid of what people would/will think of me for admitting that I'm rather a selfish creature sometimes. True, everyone is selfish to some degree, even the very best of us, but what I'm talking about it here is not the I-ate-the-last-of-ice-cream-and-I-don't-care variety. I'm talking about the fact that last Wednesday, when my husband, the one person in the world who inspires me to love more fiercely than I ever thought possible, told me that his eye hurt badly and he was seeing spots, the first thing I could think was, "I don't care! I'm sleeping!" Awful, no?

     Yes and no.

      Yes - I'm the person who should be right there, always, whenever my husband has any kind of medical issue. As the spouse of someone who has Marfan's Syndrome, I know my role. I knew going into this marriage what was going to be required of me, what he was going to need from me (though he rarely asks for it) and in that moment, I failed. Theoretically, I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. I knew there was going to come a time when I wasn't going to be able to muster up the proper response to one of his happenings because my first concern was going to be for myself. It's an ugly thing to know, but that doesn't make it any less true. It also doesn't help that I believe everyone has the same capacity to fail in such a way, because everyone else is not me - I'm better than that. Does that sound exceptionally vain? Yeah, but that's the truth of what was in my head. That my love for my husband was so strong, so unique, so much more than anyone else's love for their partner, I would be the exception.

     From our wedding vows - "Know in your hearts that the two of you together are greater than any challenge ahead. Marriage is its own reward. If you find yourself adrift, or afraid, look to these bands and know the hands that hold you." Neither my husband nor I wrote that; our wedding officiant, my husband's best friend of God-knows-how-long, did. I love it, though, and I think it was perfectly fitting for us. I hate that it's an ideal I'm still struggling to live up to, because I want to just be that good a person and partner, right out of the gate. This latest episode with my husband's health is a perfect example that I'm not just that good, despite sometimes being able to convince myself that I am. (My powers of persuasion are great, especially when I'm using them on myself.) When I let all this run around in my head, then I can only come to the conclusion that yes, it was awful of me to have not jumped up out of bed and attended to my ailing husband with nary a thought for myself. On the other hand, though...

     No - Also from our wedding vows - "Marriage is a vow to share your lives with each other, without losing your individuality." That is my favorite sentence from our wedding vows, because it phrases perfectly what I've always believed to be the most important part of marriage. I've had a problem with the whole "two become one" line of thinking ever since I fully realized what it was, because I'm a ridiculously independent person. (And by "ridiculously", I mean borderline-obnoxiously. Only sometimes, though.) I am very much my own person and I like who I am. I have no intention of losing any part of myself in an effort to create a harmonious relationship, nor did I ever have any intention of doing so. And though I know some would view the Marfan's as a game-changer and say that I should give special consideration to my husband and his needs because of it, I disagree whole-heartedly.

     I know, better than anyone, that because of my husband's disorder I'm going to have to make some adjustments to my thinking, to the way I approach things. That DOES NOT mean that I should shove myself to the side to accomplish that goal. I have needs too, I'm just as important as he and his disorder are and dammit, I will not, will NOT let it change everything. If my husband had woken me up two hours early for any other reason, I would've been just as annoyed and no one would've blamed me for it. More importantly, I wouldn't have blamed me for it.

     And that, gentle readers, (always wanted to say that!) is where I've figured out the heart of the matter lies. I'm harder on myself than anyone else could ever be when it comes to my various reactions to my husband's various medical adventures. The vast majority of the time, I am the first one (often the only one) to pack him in the car and sit with him in the ER while they poke and prod and ultimately do nothing of consequence. I'm the one that takes care of him on a daily basis, tries to make his life as comfortable and content as possible. I'm going to make a misstep every now and again because sometimes, I'm just tired. I'm tired of the emotional wringer that I get put through every time something happens, tired of the hospital, tired of the financial burden that comes with being chronically ill, tired of the added stress.

     I can't add to it, though, by tearing myself down for not being Mother Teresa about every incident, every time. I'm a strong person, but I'm not that damn strong, not yet. More accurately, I'm a good person, but I'm not that good, not yet. I can't push myself to the side every time he needs me, not yet, though I like to believe that I will get there. I'm actively working in that direction, because it's something I want to be for him. (There's so much I want to be for him that I lose track sometimes. Sigh.) I'm finding the balance between losing myself in him and selflessness when needed, I think, or at least I've recognized that that's what's needed.  So while I may have done the wrong thing last week, handled it badly, it's just another bump in the road. The next bump will no doubt be smaller, if I have anything to say about it.

No comments: