Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Finding Connection Within the Whirlwind
I don't know about you, but more and more of the people I know are getting sick.
I have a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Another friend's 65 year old husband is sliding quietly into end stage Alzheimer's. And there are too many women friends who are being treated for breast cancer.
The sadness of it is a weight we all carry, mostly separately, and at special times, together.
I grow more and more aware of how the battering ram of illness smashes down hard on couples and leaves partners flattened and afraid, without instructions for how to use the strength of relationship to build resiliency for facing the trials of illness.
The flattened partners are quickly scooped up by the medical whirlwind, and their own voices are lost in the loudness of clinical talk about diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, prognosis, trials, and options. There is hardly room to breath, let alone time to connect and remember the power of love and shared memories. There is no time to grow into awareness of being a couple, of not really being alone, when isolating words like cancer, stroke, heart attack are surrounding you.
I can remember times when I felt that the world had shrunk to just two points - me and my pain. There was no horizon, no tomorrow. Just this terrible duality of self and hurt. I thought nothing could reach me. Then Richard would come home from work and we'd sit on the couch in silence, leaning against each other. The world would shift, sometimes only for a few minutes. I felt accompanied. That there was a shoulder next to mine helping me carry the weight of pain.
There can be so much energy in the couple connection. Even if the relationship has grown dull, illness can sometimes compel alliance. When faced with a frightening diagnosis or mysterious symptoms, be silent for a moment and look into each others' eyes. Hold hands. Maintain contact within the whirlwind. Use each other as anchor points.
Have you been able to find moments of connection with your partner? How do you do it?