He's sick and relying on me. I can't always be perfect in my responses or my inner most thoughts. Now what?
posted by MCMikeNamara to human relations (31 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
So my partner is fairly seriously ill, dealing with liver disease. Earlier this year, it seemed like we were 'playing it safe' by taking it seriously -- now, after ups and downs this year, we're back to 'expediting for transplant' (which, despite how it sounds, really just means that, since he's in the hospital for the third time in as many months, while they deal with the swelling and infection for which he was admitted him last week, they're doing as many of the tests as they can that would lead up to putting him on the transplant list, so, if as his other organs (namely: kidneys) can't keep up the stress, then we'll be as ready for the liver if one becomes available.
I'm not sure the details matter. What I'm trying to say is that it's a lot.
And though 90% of the time I feel like I'm dealing well with it, it's the type of situation where that 10% just feels too important to mess up, and I want to tackle it head on.
And most of it, I understand. I'm not entirely healthy either so have to take care of myself. Fortunately, everybody in my life understands that and if I need to take a breather and not be at the bedside 100% of the time, I've been able to get away with that. And if I don't always keep the best composure, that's okay too. I'm flawed and in some ways, in this situation, I'm trying to accept that I'm doing the best I can. So that takes care of about 8 of that 10%.
But question #1 remains: How can I deal with the fact that I'm not always going to be the best partner I want to be when so much feels like it's riding on me doing so?
The other 2% is harder to explain, but here's where I'm at with it.
"This isn't what I signed up for" is a phrase that keeps coming up, though not really from me. I mean, I realize that it's, for the most part, a true statement. But eventually, I think all partnerships that take some sort of traditional 21st century romantic model, whether or not they actually can/do get married, hinge on the 'for better or for worse.' And I never felt that we were any different. Still don't. But in his less strong moments, he'll say it aloud to me, and he either hints or tells me that I'm And I feel completely confident in telling him I'm not going anywhere, and that's that.
I realize that he's saying it because, in some part, he needs to know I feel differently, and I don't resent telling him that. But I do worry that I'm somehow not showing him this with my actions, and that this is causing him to feel this way.
We don't have a strong support network locally, but we do have great friends and family, and I, especially, am blessed with people who, when they check in on his health, also check in on my well being. And I always say I'm fine when I am, and if I'm not, there are those I can tell that to as well.
But the longer this goes on, strangers I meet through the hospital or acquaintances in my life who learn the details start to see me as "the put upon partner", and though a part of me appreciates people I don't really know treating me like I'm making a noble sacrifice, I feel like crap everytime it's mentioned. Like I'm some sort of fraud who can't quite live up to the standard they're setting.
For the most part, I do clear that bar, and, to be honest, I'm glad to do so. Taking care of him is something I've always been glad to do in anyway I can, and I've always felt like it was well worth it. In an odd way, this isn't even a new feeling because our whole relationship has always been, from an outsider's perspective, 'unbalanaced' as far as money or resources go. I'm the one who works full time and pays for most, if not all, expenses. (It's ireally surprising how easy for two people to live on one salary as easy as it is to live on two.) And though that part of the supposed bargain was that he 'kept the home', it's never really been that simple, and I've never wanted it to be or expected anything else from him than what he brought to the table. And now as that imbalance has become even more noticeable, I've been happy to pick up the slack. Just because I'm also doing what he used to do doesn't mean I want to be with him any less. That was never why I was willing to do what I did for him in the first place. Taking care of myself and him just feels right.
But the more I'm complemented for doing so, the more I come to resent it. Not him, mind you. Not even the situation. But it just feels so disingenuous. Because my only response is "of course, what else would I do."
But some days, some long days when I'm tired, and even some days when things seem to be going well, I'm pissed about the whole thing. Not loudly. Not entirely. But a part of me is sometimes pissed and wish it would all go away. And the more people complement my supposedly selfless acts and strength, the more I seem to focus on those (rare but non-zero) quiet times alone in my head when I just want to toss it all away and be done with it.
As I try to explain it now in words, I know those feelings aren't real. I think about a hope to walk away from it all and it's a totally fake wish. I can't imagine doing it in any real sense. Maybe I can imagine waking up with amnesia in a "Eternal Sunshine" type way -- only by forgetting his existence could I walk away from him now. But even those type of fantasies I don't think all the way through to any sort of end. I can't even imagine what that happy, easier life would be on the other side; I just occasionally wish I had it.
So, #2, how do you deal with your imperfect feelings when you're going through a rough time?
(Apologies and my appreciation if this was hard to understand yet you made the effort; I'm afraid if I don't post it now unedited, I'll wimp out and not do it at all tomorrow.)