My husband and I have not been on the same page as of late. You know, when you tell him the sky is blue and he says no it's gray and within two minutes you are either screaming at each other or not speaking? Our communication just ain't jivin'. It's happened before and we survived it, for goodness sakes we've been together eleven years already, but it's still a process to get there. A requirement for our Catholic wedding was to attend a premarital seminar which actually turned out to be quite enlightening. A big topic was communication, and how our "family of origin" influences the way we relate to each other. My husband is from a hot-headed ethnic family that yell as their fundamental way of corresponding. My WASP clan was more prone to pouting and the silent treatment. So yeah, it's been a challenge melding these two together but we'd done a pretty good job. Until I got sick and life got really tough, and the misery of Fibromyalgia was mine to spew all over the safest and closest person possible, my husband. Misery loves company, right?
I was sitting in church yesterday and a memory came flooding back to me from the deep recesses of my cognizance, something I'd not thought of in a very long time. When I was knee deep in the hell of unmanaged Fibromyalgia and still working my retail job life sucked. He was miserable, I was miserable, we were all miserable! One Sunday afternoon we decided to try out a new Spanish/Peruvian restaurant and I found myself sitting in a hot little crowded dining room across the table from a very angry man. He was spouting and spewing his fear and anger all over me while I was trying to have a rational public argument. Finally I realized I couldn't keep up the battle so I did what any business woman has been trained to do when faced with an excesses of emotion. I firmly slipped my "professional" mask over my face, swallowed my feelings hard down my throat and plastered a small smile across my lips, signaling the white truce flag. Suddenly the room started spinning and little spots danced in front of my eyes. I knew I was seconds away from passing out. But there was nowhere to pass out! The place was jam-packed so I raced to the door as my body fell to the floor, fainting and collapsing on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. I came to a few moments later with my very concerned husband hovering over me, flanked by a couple waiters and pedestrians. Luckily I was fine, nothing came of it, and I believe we even went back in to order and eat our food.
Why this particular memory at this exact time? I believe it served to remind me this dear man's hand has been squeezed in my vice grip while I dragged him behind me, whipping and snapping through the hell of chronic illness for many years now. Although the disease itself didn't happen to him, in a way it did. However I am the one who has been given time to process, heal and restore. I've taken time off work and seen a therapist and talked and bitched and moaned about every issue hanging on my horizon. He had to go out and bring home the bacon and keep our family afloat, always running, always playing second fiddle emotionally. He's had to hold himself together and stuff his feelings inside and figure out a way to get through each day while his life slipped out of control right along side mine. We are in very different places in life right now. The high of dodging death, months on Prednisone-crack, my unrequited dreams of being a writer coming to fruition, I am moving full speed ahead into the next phase of my life. But he is not quite there with me. He's still processing, mourning, reflecting. Coming to terms with what having a sick wife has done to his life. This memory made me realize the best thing I can do for him is let him feel and quit insisting the sky is blue when he sees gray. It's okay for him to see gray, he still has storms to get through to see the blue again. As my mother said to me today, "Men are much smarter than women. They figure out on the second day they are not going to change us. Sometimes the best way to help your husband is to get out of God's way."
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This blog was originally published on 9/27/10 and rings as true today as it did then.