As surprised as I am Fibromyalgia has not destroyed my marriage, there is something else that strikes me as even more incredulous than that. My guilt. I feel so terrible for getting sick, convincing myself I have ruined my husband's life. Despite his reassurance, this guilt causes me to behave in irrational, panicked and often paranoid and delusional ways. I can't comprehend why somebody would want to make all the sacrifices he has made to be with, me? I have tried to convince him, many times, to leave me and go live his life. I have even offered to find him another wife! One that can clean the house and go to work and have children. One that can keep up with him and his voracious appetite for life. You know, the former me. I have projected this guilt on to him and gotten mad at him for being mad at me when he was just sitting there watching TV! I have flipped out a' plenty and behaved in desperate and pathetic ways because of this guilt. But for some odd reason he likes me enough to not only put up with my illness, but my craziness as well.
I was discussing this common emotion ill people feel towards their healthy counterparts with a friend. It is sensibly irrational and rational at the same time. As the years pass and my health problems pile up he is getting closer and closer to sainthood, in everyone's eyes but his. So as the conversation with my friend was winding down she summed up what I expressed in a supportive way, but threw an "It wasn't what he signed up for" at the end. I stopped immediately, cocked my head to the side and said, "Yeah, actually it is." I said the same vows he did. I have been a faithful and supportive and engaged wife, always willing to keep working at the living and breathing entity that is our marriage. I got him through college, the second time, after I graduated and he was expelled. I taught him the difference between napkins and paper towels, tissue and toilet paper, and the specific reason one was for your mouth, counter top, nose or ass. The first trip to the dentist I dragged my former frat boy to looked like it was straight out of Little Shop Of Horrors there was so much blood. I snatched up his checkbook early on and merged it into one bank account because the dear man did not know how to balance the darn thing and I needed his money to pay half the bills. And I have written every check since.
If you asked me at any point in our marriage, when I was healthy and unmarred by disease all the way to today, if I would stay by his sick side, be it chronic or terminal illness, I would kick you in the shins for even asking me. Of course I would. He is my husband. He did not ask to get sick, and neither did I. By continuing to feed into this guilt complex I have turned myself into a piteous victim not worthy of the charity of his love. Well to hell with that! I am worthy! Oh life is so different than what we had planned. So different. But the love and respect we have for each other has only grown, despite a union full of flinging wrenches. He married a healthy 24 year-old woman. But that is certainly not who he expected to die with, at the end of his long 98 years of life. When I ask him what he sees in me he tells me I am the strongest person he has ever met, he sees a fighter. He still views me as the ditsy, sarcastic, smart-ass that originally attracted him. He says because he could not imagine living life without me, no matter how sick I am or nuts I can be at times. He gives the exact same answer I would, because I am his wife. Am I a pain in the ass? Oh yes. Am I dramatically histrionic and extremely high maintenance? You bet! Am I worth it? Overwhelmingly so. I am quite glad he agrees...
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