Monday, January 2, 2012

One Illness; Two Victims

This comment just came in on an older post. I think it is well worth re-posting:

Married 36 years and the last 7 years my husband has been a paraplegic due to a mass on his spinal cord. There are TWO victims here. Him and I, and I feel like I am paralyzed right in the middle of my life. I wish I were the one dying or dead. I was not happily married to him before his surgery and I was waiting for the kids to at least be in college before I left the marriage. Now I am stuck taking care of a man who hit me and verbally abused me up until the day he got sick. Now I do it to myself because I am too much of a wimp to leave him. Thank you for letting me say this out loud, my mom died 6 years ago and I have no one to hear my pain.

I have found readers of this blog to be very sensitive to the complexities of living with illness as part of your relationship. Solutions can be elusive. Problems are complicated and simple advice that usually has the word "just" in it (like - "why don't you just leave him" or "why don't you just eat less and get some exercise) often isn't substantive enough to be of real help.

What thinking can you offer the writer of the comment above? What have you learned from your experiences as ill partner or well, caretaking partner that you can share with this author?

1 comment:

Bad Caregiver said...

Holy crap.

I don't know if I have much practical advice for you. It's easy to say "Just leave," but it isn't always easy to do. You're not a "wimp" for not simply packing up and leaving him to the wolves.

That said, you're also not a bad person for WANTING to leave. He hit you. More than once. You're not obligated to stay with him forever. You're just not.

The only advice I can offer is to talk to somebody who can offer better advice. Some social workers double as therapists, and some work on a sliding scale. They might be able to give you not only the emotional help you need right now, but also resources and services that would enable him to live without you.

Good luck. Please tell us if anything changes.